Jan 24, 2021

Data Diplomacy: Political & Social Dimensions of Data Collection & Sharing


“Data diplomacy” is an emerging cross-disciplinary idea that addresses the role of diplomacy and negotiation in relation to data access and sharing, as well as the impact of data on diplomatic relationships among nations and organizations.

This project will bring together researchers with cross-disciplinary expertise in areas spanning public health and translational research, governance and public policy, and data sharing and management, to investigate this intersection of data and diplomatic engagement.

The importance of this investigation lies in the myriad ways that data use, access and sharing informs and affects individuals, organizations and governments. The manners in which data are accessed, stored and shared can empower and illuminate, as well as infringe and complicate. As recent events have demonstrated, data access and data sharing are important issues affecting individuals and populations, as well as governments and organizations, differently. This project will explore these various stakes and stakeholders, seeking better understanding of the role data sharing plays as a new agent in social and political relationships.

Examples of data diplomacy can range widely and may include such scenarios as: negotiation between two competing health systems around access to electronic medical records of shared patients; cross-national sharing of outbreak data (e.g. ownership of and access to information about people impacted by Ebola virus); or the impact on diplomatic relationships among nations due to systematic “leakages” of data, evidenced by the Edward Snowden case.

In these scenarios, the involved entities engage with core principles of “operational diplomacy”, outlined by Paul Kreutzer (2014) to include:

  • National interest
  • Credibility
  • Clarity
  • Comprehensiveness
  • Understanding
  • Perceptiveness
  • Circumspection
  • Confidence-building
  • Decisiveness
  • Perseverance