Think Tank (2/2021)
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Data Governance and Protection in Humanitarian Action: RSIS-ICRC Workshop
18 Mar 2021

On 18 March 2021, the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Programme at RSIS and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hosted an online workshop titled “Data Governance and Protection in Humanitarian Action”. Building on two previous RSIS events — a workshop in 2017 titled “Assessing the Technological Turn in Humanitarian Action” and a roundtable in 2018 titled “Humanitarian Technology and Innovation: Critical Questions and Implications for Southeast Asia” — the workshop brought together stakeholders from various organisations in the Asia-Pacific region to discuss the relationship between data protection and humanitarian action. The workshop was aimed at serving as a platform for articulating an Asia-Pacific perspective that could contribute to the global conversation on data governance and protection.

The workshop was opened by Ms Biljana Milosevic, Head of Regional Delegation, ICRC Kuala Lumpur, and Prof Mely Caballero-Anthony, Head of the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre) at RSIS. To facilitate detailed discussion, the 50 participants were divided into three breakout groups. With Mr Muhammad Noor, Managing Director of the Rohingya Project, as resource speaker, the first breakout group discussed the topic of digital identities and the implications of its usage in humanitarian situations, particularly in the creation of digital identities for vulnerable populations.

The second breakout group on the practical and ethical challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning had Assoc Prof Hiroshi Miyashita from Chuo University as resource speaker. Discussions ranged from the relationship between data and power to privacy and bias-related concerns of AI use.

The third breakout group discussed the issues of data governance and how potentially sensitive data is managed and shared in the humanitarian context. With Mr Faizal Thamrin, Pulse Lab Jakarta, and Ms Suhana Sidik, KitaMATCH, Malaysia, as resource persons, the discussion spanned aspects such as how to close the information gap between civilian agencies and militaries operating in humanitarian missions.

Following the breakout sessions, the facilitators summarised their respective discussions at a plenary, which sparked lively discussions on the implications of the use of new technologies and how the principle of “do no harm” can be applied in a digital age.

Catch it here on the RSISVideoCast YouTube channel:

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