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Guidance on social license for public cloud services

What is social license

Citizens are more likely to be comfortable with agencies’ use of public cloud services if they trust that their data will be used by agencies in the way have agreed to and accept that the use of their data by agencies will be of value to them. This concept is known as “social licence”. 

Social licence is important

Research by the Data Futures Partnership suggests that there is an inherent lack of trust that government is putting citizens’ needs first. There are a range of views across society about how government collects, uses and stores citizen information. It is also clear that, in general, there is a lack of knowledge about how public cloud services work.
While these are not absolute barriers to the use of public cloud services, these concerns suggest that agencies should engage with citizens about social licence. This is especially important as social licence is not fixed - concerns can grow or dissipate depending on changes in the external environment and real and perceived agency performance successes (or failures). 

Consider social license

Cabinet’s Cloud First policy requires agencies to make adoption decisions for public cloud services on a case-by-case basis following a risk assessment. While these decisions are made by agencies, social licence considerations should be part of agency decision-making. For this reason, the GCIO recommends that agencies consider social licence when making adoption decisions for public cloud services.

Engage with citizens and stakeholders

The GCIO recommends that agencies discuss social licence in a transparent and meaningful way with citizens and stakeholders. This will help agencies to think through why they collect data, where they store data, how they use that data and, importantly, how they will amend any errors or mistakes. Proactive engagement on these topics will help to demystify how government operates, identify and manage potential concerns before they arise, and increase the likelihood of acceptance by citizens for the use of public cloud services.

Further guidance

The GCIO intends to provide further guidance for agencies on social licence for public cloud services. This guidance will be based on research undertaken by the Data Futures Partnership and Stats NZ.

Page last updated: 06/07/2017