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May 31, 2019

The Digital Age

May 31, 2019

Exploring the Role of Standards for Data Governance, Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Platforms

Over the past 20 years, a series of new digital technologies, and the business models that they enable, have come to dominate many sectors of the economy. Billions of connections and transactions –previously inconceivable due to geographical distance, logistical inefficiency or political barriers – are now facilitated online seemingly effortlessly.

But these technological marvels have not come without costs. New concerns like data privacy and security, algorithmic discrimination and poor digital labour practices have also emerged. This report discusses whether and how standards-based solutions can play a role in addressing these new challenges in three key areas of the digital economy – data governance, algorithms and AI, and digital platforms.

Taking a perspective that is based in Canada but globally aware, the report provides a comprehensive overview of the current governance landscape in each of these three areas. It identifies the pressing challenges in each area and highlights a series of opportunities for standards-based solutions to contribute to addressing them.

In particular, the report shows how Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) can play an important role in this. SDOs enjoy credibility and international connections, and have the ability to bring together expertise from diverse sectors. But in order to maximize on these benefits, SDOs must also modernize their own processes for the digital age.

Granted, the digital space is currently dominated by powerful vested interests – interests that are sure to push against progress in some areas. It is critically important that SDOs acknowledge this fact. Effectively governing the digital realm will require SDOs to be proactive, smart and strategic – and, most importantly, to engage diverse stakeholders from business, government and civil society to collectively develop solutions.

This report was commissioned by the CSA Group.

View report on CSA’s website



Kiran Alwani
Michael Crawford Urban

Release Date

May 28, 2019

Mowat Research

No. 194


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