Jeni will be speaking in this RightsCon dialogue “Reimagine data rights now! protecting individual data isn’t enough when the harm is collective”, chaired by Martin Tisné from Luminate, Zeynep Tufecki from Colombia University, Urvashi Aneja from the Digital Futures Lab, and Jun-E Tan from the Khazanah Research Institute.
We have a huge problem in the field in that the entire regulatory infrastructure to hold big tech to account, to support our rights online is based when it comes to data is based on individual rights alone.
That is not a coincidence, it is the consequence of decisions made by policy makers over the past decades, dating back to a consensus on privacy protection in the 1980s at a time of hyper capitalism (and individualization of responsibility). The problem is that, in contrast, (1) data impacts both individuals and society and (2) the way that the platforms monetise is via group data rather than individual data. So there is a disjuncture between the law and the market. When it comes to the collective / societal impact, we have very little safeguards and support.
This is starting to change, the DSA in Europe is partly focused on a more collective aspect, looking at systemic risk, but the vast majority of the arsenal from a regulatory perspective esp data protection, is individualized and puts the complete burden of responsibility on individuals and their own consent. In that framework, it is hard to imagine how systemic change happens as a result, even while all our of our bets as a field are by default on this approach.
We need to understand how we can learn from (1) developments and different approaches to problems that impact society, e.g. environmental problems; (2) from other activist communities, other regions (esp in Asia).