Tribal Data Governance and Informational Privacy: Constructing 'Indigenous Data Sovereignty'
80 Montana Law Review 229 (2019)
41 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 16, 2019
There is a growing movement among Indigenous peoples to assert a right to “Indigenous data sovereignty,” and yet, the term “data sovereignty” is not widely understood. What does it mean to control the collection, use and management of information in an era of “Big Data,” in which digital technology transforms knowledge into electronic form, to be freely used and traded, and, sometimes even commodified? More importantly, what are the interests of Native nations and other Indigenous peoples in these topics? Is political status tied to governance authority? If so, who controls the terms of data sovereignty—the Indigenous nation or the nation-state?
This essay discusses tribal claims to data sovereignty and informational privacy, examining the nature of the respective claims, as well as how tribal governments can exercise effective authority over the collection and use of data about the community and its members. This is a complex and multifaceted inquiry, and this essay provides only an initial analysis for consideration. Part I of the essay explores the issue of data sovereignty comparatively, framing the concept within its global and national contexts, and then discussing the rights of tribal governments and other Indigenous peoples. Part II of the essay examines the various claims that are comprised within the movement toward “Indigenous data sovereignty,” as well as the current context of data governance by tribal governments. Part III of the essay discusses three substantive areas of research that test out the reach of these principles. The essay concludes with recommendations for actions that tribal governments can take to enhance their ability to exercise governance authority over their data.
Keywords: indigenous data sovereignty, informational privacy, tribal governments, nation-building, law enforcement data, health data, environmental data
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