In my previous post, I have introduced various initiatives in partnership with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that encouraged usage of ICT tools for “challenging unequal power relations and increasing participation of marginalized girls in social transformation”(UNICEF 2013).

Although there is a short section about Privacy and Protection, statements such as “this is a relatively new area and it is not yet clear where and how information communicated or collected via mobile phones can expose marginalized adolescent girls to additional … risk” raise concerns.

In order to ensure “the safety of all involved” they suggest establishing protection measures for adolescent girls, but I ask: Why do you give a tool to someone and in the same time acknowledge that protection and privacy is not guaranteed?

Digital data protection is not yet a concern for a majority of governments in low and middle-income countries (Greenleaf, 2012) and about less than a third of the information in the digital universe can be said to have at least minimal security or protection and only about half of the information that should be protected is protected (Gantz & Reinsel 2011). In 2011, the amount of information created and replicated has surpassed 1.8 trillion gigabytes growing by a factor of 9 in just five years.

“While 75% of the information in the digital universe is generated by individuals, enterprises have some liability for 80% of information in the digital universe at some point in its digital life. We are seeing this discussion around trust unfolding before us today. Online data collection is becoming more invasive, data mining analytics and big data make it possible for businesses to profile individual consumers, and individuals are expanding their digital shadow through their use of mobile device applications and their participation in social networking sites. As a result, there are increasing calls from advocates, academics, and regulators to amend the current privacy and data protection regimes.”

There are also serious privacy concerns, particularly as firms increasingly sell personal data to other firms. Cerra (2013) notes that ‘these relatively uncharted waters are fraught with challenges as marketers struggle to walk the line between consumer exploitation and empowerment’.

I am by no means underestimating the advantages of the underlying potential, but ultimately we need to be much more critical in identifying what we gain in return for invasions of privacy.



Greenleaf, G. (2012). Global data privacy laws: 89 countries, and accelerating. School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 98 .

Gantz, J. and E. Reinsel. 2011. “Extracting Value from Chaos”, IDC’s Digital Universe Study, sponsored by EMC.

Paul Ohm, Response, The Underwhelming Benefits of Big Data, 161 U. PA. L. REV. ONLINE 339 (2013), http://www.pennlaw review.com/responses/8-2013/Ohm.pdf.

UNICEF. (2013). Integrating Information and Communication Technologies into Communication for Development Strategies to Support and Empower Marginalized Adolescent Girls.

Cerra, Allison, Kevin Easterwood, and Jerry Power. Transforming Business: Big Data, Mobility, and Globalization. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley, ©2013. Accessed August 14, 2017.