The RD4C Principles
Principles to guide responsible data handling toward saving children’s lives, defending their rights, and helping them fulfill their potential from early childhood through adolescence.
Engaging and informing individuals and groups affected by the use of data for and about children.
Operationalizing responsible data practices and principles by establishing institutional processes, roles, and responsibilities.
Ensuring the needs and expectations of children, their caregivers, and their communities are prioritized by actors handling data for and about them.
Prevention Of Harms Across The Data Life Cycle
Establishing end-to-end data responsibility by assessing risks during the collecting, storing, preparing, sharing, analyzing, and using stages of the data life cycle.
Aligning the breadth of data collection and duration of data retention with the intended purpose.
Protective Of Children’s Rights
Recognizing the distinct rights and requirements for helping children develop to their full potential.
Identifying and specifying why the data is needed and how the intended or potential benefits relate to improving children’s lives.
From our blog
New developments from RD4C.
New PublicationResponsible Data for Children Goes Polyglot: New Translations of Principles & Resources Available
In 2018, UNICEF and The GovLab launched the Responsible Data for Children (RD4C) initiative with the aim of supporting organisations and practitioners in ensuring that the interest of children is put at the centre of any work involving data for and about them. Since its inception, the RD4C initiative has aimed to be field-oriented, driven by the needs of both children and practitioners across sectors and contexts. It has done so by ensuring that actors from the data responsibility sphere are informed and engaged on the RD4C work. We want them to know what responsible data for and about children entails, why it is important, and how they can realize it in their own work. In this spirit, the RD4C initiative has started translating its resources into different languages. We would like anyone willing to enhance their responsible data handling practices for and about children to be equipped with resources they can understand. As a global effort, we want to guarantee anyone willing to share their expertise and contribute be given the opportunity to do it. Importantly, we would like children around the world—including the most marginalised and vulnerable groups—to be aware of what they can expect from organisations handling data for and about them and to have the means to demand and enforce their rights. Last month, we released the RD4C Video, which is now available in Arabic, French and Spanish. Soon, the rest of the RD4C resources, such as our principles, tools and case studies will be translated as well. We are always looking for data savvy people who can review our translations. Please let us know if you have the background and motivation to translate RD4C resources into a new language to expand the initiative’s reach. We welcome your comment at [email protected]Read more
World Refugee DayWhat about data for and about refugee children?
Nearly half of the forcibly displaced people are children. From birth, a growing number of uprooted children (whether refugee, displaced and migrant children), like many children around the globe, have their entire lives datafied. They are among a new generation of people whose information is regularly collected. Organisations providing services to refugees, including children, rely on a variety of technologies and digital tools to provide services. These include biometrics that verify identities using unique physiological characteristics (such as fingerprints, iris and facial features) and ensure that refugees’ personal identities cannot be lost or subject to identity theft. Or messaging-based services and chatbots, sometimes including a level of artificial intelligence, to provide advice and psychosocial support. This data can help organisations provide better services. When the right data are in the right hands at the right time, decisions can be better informed, more equitable, and more likely to protect children's rights—especially for those in vulnerable contexts such as uprooted children. While crisis and conflict drive more children to travel alone, little is known about unaccompanied children. Data could help identify and support them so they are not left behind. It has already proven integral for child protection work around the globe—such as helping children in Mozambique displaced by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth. However, the data handled for and about refugee children can generate risks. Uprooted children have lived traumatic events. Driven from their homes by conflict, poverty, or climate change, they can also encounter danger, detention, deprivation, and discrimination on their journeys, at destination or upon return. Organisations asking children to provide data or register for services may revisit such trauma when collecting data, especially if repeatedly conducted in an uncoordinated manner. Data breaches containing information on refugee children’ can cause children to lose trust in institutions that deliver essential services including lifesaving supplies or have severe retribution if they or their families ever return to their country of birth. What is urgently needed, is responsible data. Responsible Data for Children Refugee children should be more actively engaged and informed on what the data collected about them is going to be used for. Their specific and distinctive needs, interests and expectations should be recognised and prioritised in programmes involving and supporting them. Recognising that refugee, migrant and displaced children as children first and foremost—with rights to protection, development and participation , includes recognising that collecting, storing, preparing, sharing, analysing, and using data about children create unique opportunities and risks. All of this is central to Responsible Data for Children, a joint endeavour between UNICEF and The GovLab to highlight and support best practices around the responsible handling of data for and about children. Guiding the effort are the Responsible Data for Children principles. Drawing upon field-based research and established good practice, the Responsible Data for Children principles were conceived to guide responsible data handling toward saving children’s lives, defending their rights, and helping them fulfil their potential from early childhood through adolescence—paying particular attention to marginalised and vulnerable groups such as refugee children. In its forthcoming work, Responsible Data for Children will be looking at ways it can directly support practitioners in the field, including in refugee settings. It will be collaborating with UN staff, civil society partners and government officials to help them build the principles directly into their existing work in ways that can improve the lives of refugee children. These efforts will seek to be collaborative and include the input of children and their caregivers. *** As data practitioners think of ways to best support refugee children on World Refugee Day and every day, we invite them to look at Responsible Data for Children. By operationalizing its principles, we can ensure that data is used for the benefit of refugee children everywhere. [Image credit: Piero Olliaro]  https://popstats.unhcr.org/refugee-statistics/  https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/digital/who-knows-what-about-me/  https://data.unicef.org/resources/idac-data-insight-1/ (Fact 9)  https://odpl.thegovlab.com/ccm-directus/assets/o6245olwrwg4488k  https://www.unicef.org/migrant-refugee-internally-displaced-children  https://www.unicef.org/press-releases/nearly-37-million-children-displaced-worldwide-highest-number-ever-recordedRead more
Case StudyLaunch: Responsible Handling of Data Related to Domestic Violence in Zimbabwe: Lessons from Clustering Multiple Indicators
This week, as part of the Responsible Data for Children initiative (RD4C), The GovLab and UNICEF launched its latest case study focused on the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey’s (MICS) deployment in Zimbabwe to combat domestic violence. The largest source of statistically sound and internationally comparable data on women and children worldwide, UNICEF has carried out more than 330 MICS surveys, including three in Zimbabwe. It relates how Zimbabwe’s National Statistical Agency and the MICS team sought to counteract a lack of data on the incidence of domestic and gender-based violence by deploying a module focused on these issues. The insights generated from the work subsequently informed national legislation and a variety of national initiatives to combat domestic violence. As with the first series of case studies released last year, the study highlights practices for responsible handling of data for and about children; identifies challenges and suggests ways for practitioners to evaluate and address them; and encourages a broader discussion on actionable principles, insights, and approaches for responsible data management. The deployment of MICS in the country captured the RD4C principles of being purpose-driven (targeted at filling a specific data gap and informing ongoing policy discussions), participatory (involved a wide variety of stakeholders in managing each phase of the effort), and preventative of harm across the data lifecycle (relied on techniques through collection, processing, and analysis to guarantee the safety and confidentiality of respondents). It provides a useful example for RD4C because it demonstrates how responsible practices can evolve and be supplemented over time. It also demonstrates how principles can be realized in the field in an open, participatory fashion and the challenges that practitioners can face with field work. Read the full case study here or examine the full collection of case studies here. To learn more about Responsible Data for Children, visit rd4c.org or contact rd4c [at] thegovlab.org. To join the RD4C conversation and be alerted to future releases, subscribe at this link.Read more
New VideoBehind the Scenes of Responsible Data for Children
Data about children is everywhere. Every year, the average child will have more data collected about them than a similar child born any year prior. While all these data give opportunities to better understand children's needs and provide well-informed services, they can also generate risks - many of which are not fully understood by the people handling data, and little known by children themselves. The Responsible Data for Children (RD4C) initiative – a collaboration between The GovLab and UNICEF - seeks to build awareness on how data affects and is affected by children. Importantly, it advocates for informing and engaging with children better. A new video features children and adolescents who take the viewer through some of the benefits that data can offer to improve their lives, while highlighting the importance of mitigating the risks posed by an increasingly datafied society. The seven RD4C principles can help mitigate these risks: they offer actionable ways to put the best interests of children at the centre of data use and reuse activities involving data for and about children. They were established as a North Star to guide the RD4C work and promote a culture of responsible data practices. Aspiring to be field-oriented and answer the specific needs of children worldwide, including the most marginalized and vulnerable, the seven RD4C principles were conceived through field visits and in alignment with other data governance efforts across sectors. Since 2018, they have informed public-access case studies, tools and reports, to support those who work with data for and about children to put in place responsible handling practices that value children's needs, preferences and priorities. The video will soon be subtitled in other languages too, which will be released on the RD4C YouTube channel page. We encourage you to stay tuned and subscribe today! This video was developed in partnership with Highway Child, to whom we are grateful for the thorough work. [Image credit: Piero Olliaro]Read more
The RD4C initiative is a joint endeavor between UNICEF and The GovLab at New York University to highlight and support best practice in our work; identify challenges and develop practical tools to assist practitioners in evaluating and addressing them; and encourage a broader discussion on actionable principles, insights, and approaches for responsible data management.
The work is intended to address practical considerations across the data lifecycle, including routine data collection and one-off data collections; and compliments work on related topics being addressed by the development community such as guidance on specific data systems and technologies, technical standardization, and digital engagement strategies.
Additional tools and materials are coming soon and will be posted on this website as they become available. Join the conversation to receive regular updates.