Linnet Taylor, TILT (NL)


Grace Mutung’u, CIPIT (KE); Mariana Rielli, Data Privacy, (BR); Ralf Bendrath, European Parliament (EU); Ian Brown, Fundacao Getulio Vargas (BR)

This panel will examine how new markets and opportunities opened up by the Covid-19 pandemic have shaped business strategies for technology firms in the EU and worldwide. Technology firms are increasing their markets in public health logistics (contact tracing, vaccine certification, information distribution), educational technology and many other areas thanks to the pandemic. Less visibly, there is huge growth in the market for ID and biometric technologies, bordering technologies and home-working surveillance applications. These shifts have been accompanied by decreased controls on competition and an increased tendency on the part of authorities to legitimise pandemic-related innovation even when it challenges established boundaries. The panel will discuss the implications of these power shifts for regulators and advocacy organisations, comparing different regional challenges and possible policy and regulatory responses in the areas of privacy, data protection, competition regulation and civil society action.

  • How has the emergency of the pandemic reshaped markets for technology firms?
  • What new challenges does the pandemic create for policymakers, regulators and advocacy organisations interested in digital justice and rights?
  • Do pandemic-related shifts in technological power differ across regions?
  • How should regulatory and civil society power balance these shifts in market share and commercial infrastructure?

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.