Supporting Responsible Data Access for Public Interest Research



The Public Interest Research Alliance (PIRA) is a multistakeholder, non-binding coalition committed to the establishment of shared principles and operational guides for the appropriate collection, storage, and use of platform data for public interest research.


While the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are promising steps to ensure the protection of personal data, lack of shared understanding of privacy standards such as data “anonymity”; the role and obligations of data controllers in public interest research; and guidelines for good research hygiene, including standards for replicability and informed consent, have seriously limited data access models for public interest research.


Building upon the foundational work of Social Science One, the Institute for Secure Sharing of Online Data (ISSOD) within the SMaPP Lab at NYU, the Human Rights Center (HRC) at UC Berkeley, the Internet Observatory at Stanford, and the Global Network Initiative, PIRA will serve as a trusted entity to develop overarching principles and guides to inform appropriate data access, sharing, ownership, security, and privacy standards for public interest research across varied collaboration models and research domains.



A draft set of principles and operational guides have been created and are available for review.



PIRA is actively recruiting organizations and representatives from academia, civil society, government, industry, intergovernmental organizations, and the public to become inaugural members. Please contact Dr. Brandie Nonnecke (nonnecke [at] berkeley [dot] edu) to learn how to become involved.


Additional advisors to be announced.



Chris Hoofnagle, JD, UC Berkeley

Prof. Hoofnagle serves as Faculty Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. He has expertise in internet law, information privacy, consumer protection, cybersecurity, computer crime, and the regulation of technology. He has led research on the effects of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on privacy and security of data. 




Sonia Katyal, JD, UC Berkeley

Prof. Katyal serves as Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. She has expertise in technology, intellectual property and civil rights, including antidiscrimination, privacy, and freedom of speech.





Alexa Koenig, JD, PhD, UC Berkeley

Dr. Koenig serves as the Executive Director of the Human Rights Center at the UC Berkeley School of Law where she co-founded the Human Rights Investigations Lab, which trains undergraduate and graduate students in open source methods for human rights investigations. Koenig has been active in establishing data access collaborations with platforms for human rights investigations and public interest research. 




Deirdre Mulligan, JD, UC Berkeley

Prof. Mulligan serves as Faculty Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology. Her research explores legal and technical means of protecting values such as privacy, freedom of expression, and fairness in emerging technical systems. 





Nate Persily, JD, Stanford

Persily serves as Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, with appointments in the Departments of Political Science, Communication, and the Freeman Spogli Institute. He co-founded Social Science One, an industry-academic partnership to support researchers’ access to information held by the private sector to advance social science research. 




Kip Wainscott, JD, Stanford

Kip is a Senior Advisor at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center, where he leads programming for the Global Digital Policy Incubator to advance policymaking that reinforces human rights and democratic values. He has held policy roles at the White House and US Department of Justice, and has worked extensively with NGOs and civil society organizations in the democracy and human rights communities globally.





Chaya Nayak, Manager of Strategic Initiatives, Head of Non-Commercial Data Sharing, Facebook

Nayak is a Public Policy Research Manager at Facebook, where she leads Facebook’s Data for Good Initiative around how to use data to generate positive social impact and address policy issues.





Andrew Gruen, Manager of Strategic Initiatives, Stakeholder Engagement for Non-Commercial Data Sharing, Facebook

Gruen works on the Election Research Commission team at Facebook, focusing on providing data to independent academic researchers to study the impact of social media on democracy and elections in a way that preserves the privacy of individual users.



The PIRA was incubated at the Aspen Institute Tech Policy Hub and is hosted at the CITRIS Policy Lab at the University of California, Berkeley