Research Initiatives on Information Policy

IAF Research and Educational Initiatives

Central to our mission is conducting research on developing a trustworthy information policy that encourages all the benefits of the information age while mitigating risks to people and organizations. The IAF also provides education to stakeholders on how the research may be applied. 

Read the IAF 2022 Highlights and 2023 Policy Directions Report

Research Initiatives –

The IAF conducts research in the following areas, with results on the publications page:

The IAF has drafted model fair processing legislation to inform the legislative process in the United States and other jurisdictions that will draft legislation in response to threats to people in a fourth industrial age from the acceleration of observational data and advanced analytics. The World Economic Forum coined the term Fourth Industrial Revolution to describe the coming integration of the digital, physical, and biological spheres. Those trends are captured in terms such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things, and big data. The last big change in computer and communication technology was captured in the third phase of privacy legislation best exemplified by the GDPR. The fourth legislative phase of privacy legislation needs to meet the challenges of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies and the necessity for ethical frames and will be enacted in almost all regions. IAF model legislation will help define the way policymakers think about policy choices. The IAF will continually refine the model so that it is fit for its educational purposes.

The policy arena has moved beyond saying that ethics should be reflected in data governance to begin asking for the business processes that achieve shared values are reflected in the processing decisions made. AI and advanced analytics make it difficult for compliance with laws and regulations alone to govern when data used beyond common understanding is appropriate and fairly processed. Ethics requires that organizations understand the consequences of both using and not using data. The IAF, in collaboration with policy experts, is developing the assessment processes necessary to make sound judgments on whether data use ultimately serves people. The IAF will be opportunistic in doing so, working with policymakers where there is a clear demand for research on how to use data to drive growth and to do so in a fair fashion.

Best in class privacy programs increasingly are focused on what data means to people. When organizations are truly people-focused, they have embraced an essential element for moving from being a data custodian to a data steward. Effective data stewards understand all data stakeholders, both internally and externally, and how to balance their interests in a fair fashion. The IAF’s work focuses on the necessary elements for Ethical Data Stewardship and works with companies to test these essential elements to better inform the policy process. 

Advertising for products and ideas have been increasingly driven by the observation that most people do not understand, which then drives analytics that are increasingly complex. The IAF is exploring all facets of how persuasive communications may be trustworthy, starting with guidance for profiling for market segmentation. 

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution integrates the digital, physical, and biological spheres together, this integration will be most impactful in data-driven health research. Interventional research has long been governed by rules that protect patients’ interests as research benefits broader interests. Trust enhancing rules need to be developed for a purely digital research environment. The IAF will work with partners such as universities and other think tanks, to develop and nurture these new governance models. 

Educational Initiatives –

The IAF, working with partners, organizes seminars for policymakers and influencers on how information and communications technologies work and how best practices may be applied to governance. The IAF also conducts specialized seminars for data protection authorities and policy developers.

The IAF has worked with others to organize and add content to conferences for the global community interested in governance of data that pertains to individuals. IAF specific 2019 targets include:

    • Canadian Framework – The IAF is currently working with Canadian businesses under contract from the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development to write a report on how socially beneficial processing may be permissioned based on trustworthy assessments. The IAF report will be completed by March 31, 2020. As part of this project, the IAF will hold a multi-stakeholder session late in 2019. The IAF has engaged in research in Canada on how AI and advanced analytics might be conducted in a manner consistent with Canadian values.
    • Latin America Post GDPR – The IAF is opportunistic in working with Latin American stakeholders as the region adapts to changing expectations for data protection. IAF initiatives have included six international conferences in the region.The IAF will assist Latin American stakeholders understand how to accommodate innovation and still meet the human rights protected under data protection law.
    • Asia and Pacific Privacy Evolution – Japan and South Korea are already trying to meet the GDPR adequacy test. Singapore, Philippines, and Hong Kong China are looking to fourth phase legal structures. China and India are both developing privacy regimes that meet their political cultures. The IAF will be opportunistic in informing these processes.
    • Europe Beyond the GDPR – Europe is still learning how to live with and under the GDPR. This is particularly so as it relates to using data to generate new insights in a fashion that is respectful of the full range of fundamental rights. The law includes both the encouragement for research and increases the friction for insight development processes that might be labeled profiling. The IAF will opportunistically work with partners to develop solutions that enhance both trust and innovation. 

Martin Abrams is a member of the Programme Advisory Committee for the annual conference. He has served on the committee on previous conferences in Hong Kong, Morocco, Mauritius, Poland, Mexico, United Kingdom, and Australia.

The IAF is a member of the experts group at the OECD that will advise on new guidance for privacy accountability related to advanced analytics and AI. The IAF is an invited guest at the APEC Data Privacy Subgroup.