This site is not maintained. The Digital Stewardship Initiative was reorganized as Open Effect in 2015.

About DSI

Towards a Culture of Accountable Digital Stewardship

The Digital Stewardship Initiative (DSI) is an ongoing applied research and development collaboration focused on practices and processes to aid the accountable stewardship of personal data. DSI operates based on the understanding that there is an asymmetry that currently exists between citizens and companies that hold data on them. Individuals and self-organizing groups rely on services offered by private companies to be productive online, yet these companies utilize and disclose our digital footprints – the data generated by our online activities – in often un-transparent ways. This motivates us to conduct research and develop tools and resources to empower people to take more control over their digital lives and have a greater capacity to exercise their rights online for social and economic well-being.


Andrew Hilts   

Andrew Hilts’ software development and research work focuses on empowering citizens to exercise their digital rights online, with a particular focus on data standards and research accessibility. He is Program Director for the Digital Stewardship Initiative and is its principal software developer, where he conducts applied research and leads the technical implementation of DSI tools. As a research fellow at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, Andrew writes a monthly column called Social Media Watch which is a monthly recap of legal, policy, and technology news stories that impact privacy, security, and free expression on social media. As a facilitator at the annual Cyber Dialogue conference series, Andrew collaborated with global Internet community members to define, plan, and moderate expert working groups on the topics of digital citizenship skills and corporate social responsibility in the digital age. He has a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information, where he completed his thesis on tools and resources to empower designers of e-democracy systems.

Christopher Parsons    

Christopher Parson’s research, teaching, and consulting interests involve how privacy is affected by digitally mediated surveillance, and the normative implications that such surveillance has in (and on) contemporary Western political systems. He is a post-doctoral fellow at the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, where he is examining telecommunications companies’ data retention and data disclosure policies. He has a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Victoria, where he completed a dissertation that examined the political drivers of Internet service providers’ network surveillance practices. He is also a Privacy by Design Ambassador and a principal at Block G Privacy and Security Consulting. He has written policy reports for civil advocacy organizations in Canada, submitted evidence to Parliamentary committees, and been an active member of the Canadian privacy advocacy community. He has been involved in projects examining lawful access legislation in Canada and abroad, identity management systems in Canada, automatic license plate recognition technologies in Canada and the UK, network management and surveillance practices in Western democratic states, and privacy issues linked to social media services. Christopher has published in the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, European Journal of Law and TechnologyCanadian Privacy Law Review, CTheory, and has book chapters in a series of academic and popular books and reports. His research has been funded by SSHRC, the New Transparency Project, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s contributions programs, and by civil advocacy organizations. He regularly presents his research to government, media, the public, and at academic events.

Collaborating Organizations

Open Effect

Open Effect is a Canadian not-for-profit that develops and advocates for the ethical and accountable treatment of personal data. Its activities include applied research and development of prototype tools, comparative analyses of digital services, and educational material that empower people to access, understand, and benefit from their personal information.

The Citizen Lab

The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary laboratory based at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, Canada focusing on advanced research and development at the intersection of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), human rights, and global security.