Call of Papers for a Special Issue on Data, Law, and Decolonisation

Siddharth Peter De Souza

Siddharth Peter De Souza

Postdoctoral Researcher, Global Data Justice Project at Tilburg University, Founder of Justice Adda, Co- Founder d- Van Siddharth is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Global Data Justice project and is interested in the role data plays at the intersection of law and development. Prior to joining TILT he was a PhD researcher at Humboldt University Berlin, and has studied law at the University of Cambridge and at the University of Delhi. He previously worked as a German Chancellor Fellow at the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and Rule of Law, Heidelberg and as a Judicial Clerk at the High Court of Delhi. Siddharth is the founder of Justice Adda, a legal design social venture in India, and a researcher at FemLab.Co

Special Issue on Data, Law, and Decolonisation

In this Special Issue on Data, Law and Decolonisation, the Technology and Regulation journal invites contributions that analyse the emergence of law for the digital economy at a global level (in terms of digital rights discourses, laws on data sharing, data for development in international law or competing privacy regulations) from a decolonial perspective. With the emergence of different models of data governance around the world such as public data trusts, data cooperatives and models around data sovereignty, we are interested in finding ways to build a more diverse and a more global understanding of these debates. We wish to study how governments, international organizations and big tech corporations influence domestic and international legal regimes and shape transnational conversations about data governance and regulation. We would also like to reflect on the role that activists and community organizations play in shaping data governance frameworks.

Through inviting decolonial perspectives, we seek articles that reflect on how data can be regulated at a global level, while at the same time give voice to different cultures, ideologies and experiences with datafication. The Special Issue asks whether existing discourses on the intersection of data and law reflect experiences largely in the Global North, and how material engagements of the digital economy in the South can be articulated and incorporated in terms of the categories, values and norms that influence the building of laws. We would also like to explore how varied resources, capacities and access to data infrastructures, among different players in the data market, impact the ways in which they can shape and influence policy. Another aspect of interest is the tensions between state visions of data markets and technology firms, and in particular the ways in which firms differentiate between geographical regions, depending on the capacities of states to push back and regulate them. We are interested in comparative research that evaluates data governance frameworks across country contexts, and how moves towards data nationalism and data sovereignty, affect the way in which data can be governed transnationally.

In doing so, we wish to examine how the hierarchies of power in some instances between governments and corporations, governments and other governments, communities and governments, and communities and corporations shape the regulation of data. We would like to understand the implications that such power differentials have in causing harm and in creating spaces of dominance, both in terms of how data is produced and flows, and in terms of how the regulations are challenged.

Some of the questions that the articles could cover are:

  • What does decolonisation mean when examining a law for the digital economy at a global level?
  • What kinds of methods should be employed in developing data governance frameworks to account for different infrastructural capacities and socio-political contexts?
  • What are the concepts, terms and cases that must be included to think critically about data and law outside the Global North?

Guest editors: Siddharth de Souza, Linnet Taylor and Aaron Martin

Submission instructions:
Complementing work on Global Data Law, Decolonising Digital Rights, and thinking about new vocabularies for AI, we are looking for papers that can reflect on some of these questions both theoretically and empirically. Should you be interested, please submit an abstract (500 words) that contains the title, author name, research question, methodology and your main argument to [email protected] by 15th August 2021.

Authors of selected abstracts will be informed 15th September 2021. If your paper is selected, we will ask you to submit the final paper (8,000-10,000 words) in electronic format by 15th January 2022.

For more on the submission guidelines please refer here. For further enquiries please contact Siddharth de Souza: [email protected]

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.