Data Sovereignty

The term Data Sovereignty generally means data are subject to the laws and governance structures of the nation where they are collected. As the lead of Discover Regenerative, we at Open Food Network extend the meaning of this term: that data should be subject to the control and decisions of the entity it is either created by or about.

In the case of agriculture, by ‘data sovereignty’ we mean that Producers govern the data created about or by them, as a User of Discover Regenerative i.e. they understand and control data use.

In the case of Indigenous Data, which may also contain Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (or ICIP), we mean the User and/or the relevant Traditional Owners or Custodians of that ICIP.

This principle has been central to the design and development of the Discover Regenerative Portal, which prioritises User ownership and control of their own data – either created by, or about them. 

At the same time, we are aiming to increase accessibility and usefulness of technical tools for farmers, by enabling streamlining and sharing of their data – reducing the need to enter, and maintain, the same data in multiple online platforms. 

What has Discover Regenerative achieved so far with data sovereignty?

This first iteration of Discover Regenerative has taken significant steps towards farm and Indigenous data sovereignty. Centering data sovereignty in our approach has entailed:

How do we manage your Data in Discover Regenerative?

Attachment 1 in our Terms of Service provides a detailed summary of how data provided to Discover Regenerative is used, and how Producers can control, retrieve and delete it. The main features to note are:

  • Data Sharing: Users control data sharing from their Open Food Network account ‘Connected Apps’ feature, where they can also turn it off
  • Data Access/Copy: Open Food Network has extensive data retrieval options, via reporting and API. Supplementary data provided to Discover Regenerative can be extracted in csv formatting by contacting:
  • Data Deletion: You can remove your listing and supplementary assurance data from public display on the Portal using the Connected Apps switch. We retain supplementary data by default for analysis and in case you want to access it again in the future. Email us to fully delete from all our databases. 
  • What we will do with your data: Unless we have your explicit consent, we will not rent or sell your personal information or any data collected through the Discover Regenerative Portal, Open Food Network website or services to anyone. We will only share your personal information or data to third parties in order to deliver our services (see below), or for research, analysis or purposes to aid the sector e.g. in advocacy. If identifying Farm Data were required to be disclosed for legal reasons, or were accidentally disclosed, all impacted Users would be notified via email, including our processes to manage any potential consequences. Further detail is in our Privacy Policy which applies to data collected in Discover Regenerative as well as the Open Food Network.
  • Third Parties: To provide this Portal product to you, we use Third Parties as tools and service providers to help collect and manage supplementary assurance data. Please refer to our current list of Third Parties engaged.  

Investing in Interoperable Open Source Solutions 

In addition to data sovereignty, Open Food Network has a long-standing commitment to technical sovereignty. This is where information and communications infrastructure and technology is aligned to the laws, needs and interests of the users they serve. For us, this means using and building open source, interoperable and shareable technology wherever possible. 

Discover Regenerative currently uses some proprietary third-party tools, primarily Airtable and Mini-extensions. This enables quick and affordable database structures, Producer Application form etc. 

However, our most significant technical investments in Discover Regenerative have been in solutions that can be adapted and reused by others. This includes broader potential use for our partners and users. These include: 

  • Interoperability: We developed new API endpoints on the Open Food Network which are DFC-compatible. This means they can be used for discovery of producers and products by any site or system using the DFC protocols. For detail or to contribute see here
  • The Startin’Blox SiB web components used to display the producer listings, assurances and producer details pages can be adapted and reused in different contexts. See code here.