Episode 3 — Data Colonialism and Non-Aligned Technology

In this episode we talk to Ulises A. Mejias, of Communication Studies and the director of the Institute for Global Engagement at SUNY Oswego. Ulises is the co-founder of the Non-Aligned Technologies Movement and the network Tierra Común.

Ulises discusses his motivations behind developing the concept of data colonialism with Nick Couldry and their book The Costs of Connection: How Data is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating it for Capitalism. Ulises also shares his work in ​​Tierra Común, which unites activists, journalists, human rights defenders, academics and citizens who seek to decolonise data. The project focuses on creating spaces to share perspectives on data colonialism, as well as organise and build archives around events that seek to resist data colonialism. It seeks to build a network for Latin America and beyond. Ulises co-founded Tierra Común with Nick Couldry and Paola Ricaurte.

Ulises shares his experiences bridging Northern and Southern experiences and knowledge in his work. You can read about the principles guiding the Non-Aligned Tech Movement here.

About the project

Places and populations that were previously digitally invisible are now part of a ‘data revolution’ that is being hailed as a transformative tool for human and economic development. Yet this unprecedented expansion of the power to digitally monitor, sort, and intervene is not well connected to the idea of social justice, nor is there a clear concept of how broader access to the benefits of data technologies can be achieved without amplifying misrepresentation, discrimination, and power asymmetries.

We therefore need a new framework for data justice integrating data privacy, non-discrimination, and non-use of data technologies into the same framework as positive freedoms such as representation and access to data. This project will research the lived experience of data technologies in high- and low-income countries worldwide, seeking to understand people’s basic needs with regard to these technologies. We will also seek the perspectives of civil society organisations, technology companies, and policymakers.