Ethical Considerations for Data Collection and Sharing: Data Sovereignty and Ownership

Data ownership and sovereignty is defined as the ability for communities (including Indigenous communities) to participate in the collection, stewardship and control of data that is created with or about themselves.

Concerns about data ownership and sovereignty must be considered as they are foundational to principles of integrity. Data ownership and sovereignty issues are not the same in all situations. Where research and engagement includes Indigenous communities and sensitive knowledges about place and space, clarity about data ownership is crucial.

Engagement processes take many forms. In many research projects data ownership may be more straightforward (e.g., it is owned by the funder or researcher). However, it is important to acknowledge that funder and researcher-ownership does not or should not supersede Indigenous sovereign rights to data. Data ownership and sovereignty issues may be less clear in other settings, for example in the context of engagement to assess perspectives about a waste management location. Ethically grounded discussion should address who owns or determines access to data/information. Where does the power sit in relation to data as knowledge (i.e., data is power)? And how will the data be shared, with whom, and in what format?



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Building Sustainable Communities: Information Gathering and Sharing Copyright © 2022 by Ryan Plummer; Amanda Smits; Samantha Witkowski; Bridget McGlynn; Derek Armitage; Ella-Kari Muhl; and Jodi Johnston is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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