Background and Project Dynamics

Generally speaking, the relationship and communications between the private sector and civil society is poor and unstable. NGOs and advocates – particularly in the realm of privacy and data protection – are an unknown or misunderstood sector in the eyes of many organisations. They are often seen a a population that can be “managed” rather than being entities that can be a resource for collaboration on sensitive issues. Often, the problem can be traced to poor contact and communications. And sometimes it comes down to a fundamental conflict over information use and technology design.

There is a widespread view that the time is right for all organisations - NGOs, educational institutions, corporations etc - to directly and constructively engage each other, particularly on sensitive information processing and IT issues. This is particularly so in light of the new data protection Regulation. There are certainly many examples where such a positive relationship exists, but those are still few and far between.

Such a commitment should not imply that there are ways to end all the frequent conflicts, legal actions and media campaigns that have historically taken place. Indeed there are many circumstances where it would be improper to suggest a different path. There will always be bad players and bad projects that are fundamentally inimical to strong privacy. Equally, good privacy and good leadership by companies needs to be better known, supported and promoted by civil society.

The work has particular relevance to a number of key aspects. The sponsorship of privacy conferences has always been a lightning rod for controversy. Equally, corporate support for NGOs has been a source of suspicion and division within civil society. Such controversy may never be entirely resolved, but it is clear that the general instability of the overall relationship between the sectors needs to be better understood before matters have any chance of improving. This is the basis of the proposed project.Type your paragraph here.


The work has particular relevance to a number of key aspects. The sponsorship of privacy conferences has always been a lightning rod for controversy. Equally, corporate support for NGOs has been a source of suspicion and division within civil society. Such controversy may never be entirely resolved, but it is clear that the general instability of the overall relationship between the sectors needs to be better understood before matters have any chance of improving. This is the basis of the proposed project.

A final report will be launched at the CPDP conference in January 2018.

Structure, Support and Financing

The work will be funded through contributions from companies and philanthropic foundations. Supporting organisations may brand the project.

A working advisory group has also been created.

The Ethical Dimension: what the Project will NOT do

The project is not a negotiator. It will not provide a facility to “cut deals” with civil society. Nor will it be a means to circumvent controversy through compromise. Its role is to find ways to help organisations find constructive solutions and thus create stronger privacy for all.Type your paragraph here.

1. Discover the dynamics of the current situation. This element of the work will involve documenting how NGOs and conferences are currently dealing with their relationship with corporations. How do companies interact with civil society orgs? Do they have a form of framework or assessment criteria? Do they enjoy a broader collaborative relationship? What are the expectations of all parties?

2. Assess where things are going wrong – and right - and how the situation might improve. This will be achieved by conducting a series of workshops and meetings throughout the year involving all the parties to discuss these issues. These meetings will identify risks and opportunities. They will also explore contexts where all players can work together (and hopefully also identify examples of where such relationships have worked well in the past).

3. Figure out a way forward. This work culminates in a report for release at the 2018 CPDP that proposes options for a way forward that is constructive for all parties.Type your paragraph here.

Finance and Administration
The Civil Engagement project is administered by the Nordic Nonviolence Study Group (NORNONS), Sparsnas 1010, 66891 Ed, Sweden (NORNONS is a registered non-profit organisation in Sweden, number 802460-7239)


BANK DETAILS

NORDIC NONVIOLENCE STUDY GROUP (NORNONS)

Bank:
Dalslands Sparbank, Torget 4, 668 30 Ed
Sweden


IBAN 8000 0823 4733 7671 7728

BIC SWEDSESS

The Civil Engagement Project

Throughout 2017, the newly formed Civil Engagement Project will hold workshops across Europe to seek an understanding of the relationship between civil society and business. The project's aim is to determine whether it is possible – and appropriate – to promote a better understanding between these two sectors. The goal of this work is to identify opportunities for stronger collaboration, cooperation and mutual support between companies, consumer groups and privacy activists. Such a shift is an important consideration for everyone, particularly in light of the new data protection Regulation and recent EU case law.

Historically, the relationship between the sectors – where it even exists – suffers from mistrust and poor communications, culminating in conflict both in the courts and in media. Indeed, there is often a total absence of dialogue. At times, there is good reason for this tension. Some products and business models are poisonous to privacy and should be vigorously resisted. Conversely, there is sometimes a tendency toward unstable dichotomies that can impede potentially valuable opportunities for either “side” to learn from the experience and perspectives of the other. One key challenge will be to discover what is possible


Civil Engagement is a wholly independent project. It was conceived and founded by privacy pioneer Simon Davies and will seek funding from a wide diversity of sources. The project – which will involve input from companies and civil society - has three key objectives.

A final report will be launched at the CPDP conference in January 2018.