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The price of trust? An analysis of emerging digital stewardship models


The Samuelson-Glushko Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC)



Project Leader(s)

David Fewer


An effective data governance system must address competing stakeholder claims and numerous legal, financial and ethical considerations, not all of which will have emerged at the time of its design. A data governance system must therefore delicately balance competing priorities yet also flexibly adjust to new issues.

The concept of the “data trust” is drawing a great deal of attention among those charged with studying and addressing data governance challenges. Born of the common law trust, true “data trusts” retain two key features: a critical element of fiduciary responsibility, and allegiance to the principle that a trustee manages assets in the interests of beneficiaries. In practice, however, many data governance vehicles called “data trusts” retain neither of these features.

The purpose of this project is to bring clarity to the question of what responsible data stewardship looks like. In doing so, it examines desirable features of data trusts and compares a variety of emerging data governance systems. To that end, this project aims to define a framework that can be used to identify a responsible data stewardship model and distinguish it from other data governance models, and classify different kinds of data governance models.

Project deliverables are available in the following language(s):

English (with some French)

OPC Funded Project

This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.

Contact Information

David Fewer
General Counsel

Tel: 613-562-5800 ext. 2558

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