At a time of unprecedented global changes, across our social, political, and technology systems, protecting and promoting our data rights has become all the more vital work. We have seen firsthand both the benefits and the downsides of Web technologies. Using technology ethically has become even more important.

In particular, the role of data in solving (without also exacerbating) our major challenges has never been more acute. And yet, our understanding of data as a key component of large-scale computational networks, and a major driver of economic value, remains incomplete. Too many stakeholders -- entrepreneurs, technologists, and policymakers alike -- operate under untested assumptions about the economic nature of data. For example, is data a private good -- “the new oil?” is it a public good? a type of service? a form of labor? or something very different? And additionally, how best can we utilize data for mutual value and benefit while protecting individuals’ privacy and data rights?

This is a different kind of conference -- one intended for those open to considering new questions, seeking novel solutions, and keen to build a future driven by human values and principles -- a responsible data economy. We invite you to join us, as we take the first steps towards fashioning what can be thought of as a form of digital stewardship.

Some open questions we will be considering together include:

Understanding the nature of data; what are workable definitions, potential narratives, economic theories, legal frameworks, human rights implications, and governance models?

Developing the concept of digital stewardship: how should we think about ways to govern computational systems? How can we embed concepts of privacy and security in these systems? What new institutions and tools may be necessary to promote human values in these systems?

Exploring various privacy and decentralizing technologies; what can be the Web “overlay” role of distributed ledgers, federated learning, differential privacy, edge computing, data-as-token (DaT), trusted enclaves, Personal AIs, etc.? What technical standards can be developed?

Assessing opportunities for public policy action; what is the current legislative landscape in the US Congress? What are the prospects for new federal policies to facilitate inputs such as interoperability, portability, and delegability?

What lessons are available to us from the COVID-19 pandemic? Does the global crisis create opportunities for enduring change in tech markets and institutions?

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