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Report: Data Justice in Indonesia and the Philippines

Photo by Loïc Fürhoff on Unsplash

The Alan Turing Institute (ATI) has published research reports from the Advancing Data Justice: Research and Practice (ADJRP) project, which aims to fill the gap in data justice research and expand existing narratives to include testimonies from underrepresented voices. The 12 reports from ATI’s policy pilot partners, which draw from over 120 interviews and 12 workshops conducted across five continents, explore how principles of data justice are applied in specific global contexts.

As one of ATI’s policy pilot partners, EngageMedia reported on how data justice is perceived and understood by civil society, technology groups, and affected communities in Indonesia and the Philippines. Conducted in partnership with EngageMedia research consultant Dr Diani Citra, the report entitled “The Techno-politics of Data Justice in Indonesia and the Philippines” draws from the research team’s interviews and observations on how data justice is understood by stakeholders in Indonesia and the Philippines. It further focuses on understanding the ways different groups imagine and experience the growing digital landscape, as seen through the lens of the six pillars of data justice developed by the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence:

  1. Power
  2. Equity
  3. Access
  4. Identity
  5. Participation
  6. Knowledge

Among the highlights of EngageMedia’s research were informants’ views on the inevitability of digitisation and the pervasiveness of digital and online surveillance. They also noted the existence of digital divides in both Indonesia and the Philippines, the lack of access to public-interest data, and the inability to make sense of this data as part of their experience of living in datafied society. For informants, data justice was also associated with the ability to fully express their identity, and the dehumanising impact of inadequate methods of data collection that do not accurately capture the multiplicity of people’s identities and end up reducing people to datasets.

The report noted how technology is seen and accepted as an embodiment of progress, while its negative impact on society goes largely unexamined:

Our findings show that digital transformation so far does not mirror the lived experiences, hopes, and dreams of the subjects in this digital world. To achieve digital transformation, these diverse stakeholders have to negotiate and reconcile individual and collective anxieties.

On April 7, ATI launched a research showcase to facilitate public discussion on the research findings. The event also featured the launch of the Introducing Data Justice documentary film series, co-produced by EngageMedia, which explores data justice concepts around the world.

Introducing the film series, EngageMedia Content and Engagement Manager Jen Tarnate emphasised the importance of highlighting voices that are often unheard or excluded in data policy conversations. She added: “In a world that is becoming more and more datafied and reliant on technology – often, the idea of ‘data’ feels detached from one’s personhood due to its digital nature. But we hope that in this series, we could help show that amidst all of this information and data sets, there are real people, real identities on the other side who are directly affected.”

Read EngageMedia’s report:

ATI EM Research Report - Technopolitics of Data Justice

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Read the reports of other ATI policy pilot partners on this page.

EngageMedia also produced a video summarising key findings from the report and highlighting the perspectives of informants from Indonesia and the Philippines. Watch the video summary below.

The ADJRP project is a collaboration between the Global Partnership on AI, the Alan Turing Institute, and participants and communities across the globe. It is also part of EngageMedia’s larger work documenting the uses and problems of artificial intelligence and its implementation in Southeast Asia.