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Dialing Down Risks: Mobile Privacy and Information Security in Global Development Projects

August 22, 2013 |
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Mobile phones being used to deliver aid messages after the earthquake in Haiti. Photo courtesy of DFID- The UK Department for International Development.

Over the past decade, mobile phones have become increasingly prominent features of global development projects. Aiming to spur social and economic development in the Global South, a variety of international organizations and nonprofits have invested heavily in mobile-centric projects to address challenges in public health, financial inclusion, transparent governance, and more.

Given the high rates of cell phone penetration in the developing world, this trend in information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) is hardly a surprise. Many of these mobile-oriented development projects are promising: a recent World Bank report, for example,describes how cell phones are allowing African farmers to access price information via text messages, connecting new mothers to maternal health information, and facilitating interaction between citizens and local governments.

However, new technologies bring significant challenges along with benefits. Mobile phones raise pressing privacy and security issues that must be addressed by development practitioners and funders. Presently, ICT4D practitioners and funders lack any sort of model for best practices, guidelines, frameworks, or discussions about the privacy and security risks raised by mobile development projects. This paper seeks to establish guiding privacy and security principles for mobile ICT4D projects, to provide a framework for project planning and evaluation, and to facilitate productive dialogue and action in the intersection of technology, privacy, and development.

To read the full paper, click here.

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