Media CenterHumanitarian and Tech Sectors Join Forces to Provide Data Protection for the World’s Most Vulnerable

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Tom Price
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(410) 951-7450


"Help Us Ensure the Best Data Protection for Beneficiaries”

BALTIMORE, MD, May 24, 2017 – Global aid agencies seeking to protect some of the most vulnerable people around the world from breaches of data privacy have called on donor agencies to help establish industry-wide standards.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), NetHope and World Vision were among hundreds of organizations at the international Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) Conference in India (May 15-18) calling for better protection of data amid the WannaCry ransomware attack. The organizations highlighted the need to standardize approaches for protecting the privacy and security of data gathered by the humanitarian sector in an effort to provide more efficient support and measure impact.

During the conference, the group announced it would review existing frameworks, tools, and mechanisms relating to data security and privacy across the humanitarian sector. The aim of this work is to create a small suite of standardized frameworks to enable the industry to better protect people’s data.

“We are committed to ensuring that the data of the people we serve around the world is adequately protected,” said Karl Lowe, CIO and vice president of IT at CRS. “We will work with our donors – governments, foundations and other institutions – so we can align required data protection standards for our humanitarian and development projects.”

Kate Wilson, CEO of DIAL, added, “Collecting data on beneficiaries is an important part of shaping development programs and tracking impact but we must come to terms with the inadequacies of the privacy and security systems that currently exist. Donors and implementing agencies should work together to develop and apply more effective privacy safeguards as called for as part of the Principles for Digital Development.” 

“Establishing appropriate guidance for the humanitarian sector is of utmost importance,” said Lauren Woodman, CEO of NetHope. “Over the last year, NetHope has been working to identify best practices in information security and data protection, and we’re thrilled to see the sector coming together to address this important issue.”

Al Lutz, Chief Information Security Officer of World Vision, said everyone – humanitarian agencies, donors, members of the private sector and governments – needed to aim for the highest level of safeguards possible.

“Our beneficiaries, especially the most vulnerable, deserve the very best data protection we can provide,” he said. “Being at risk of having your data misused simply because you happen to be living in a refugee camp, or because a drought leaves you reliant on food aid just adds insult to injury. Everyone involved with collecting, storing and using beneficiary data has a responsibility to shoot for the very best common standards that can be practically applied.”


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

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Tags: ICT4D

WannaCry attack highlighted need for aid groups to protect data on beneficiaries.More