Hellen Mukiri-Smith

PhD Researcher, Global Data Justice, at Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology & Society, Tilburg University

Hellen is a PhD Researcher on the Global Data Justice project. Her research interests include digital surveillance law, big data and power, data value chains, data governance and ethics, and the impact of data technologies on people’s privacy and other areas of human development. Hellen’s PhD research focuses on Kenya as a case study. Prior to joining TILT, she worked as a development policy consultant for the Government of The Bahamas, in the Office of The Prime Minister. She previously practiced law, and also taught law at The University of the Bahamas/University of the West Indies joint law program. Hellen has a Master of Science in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a Master of Laws from King’s College London, a Postgraduate Diploma in Bar Vocational Studies from Cardiff University, and a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Northampton. She has been called to the Bar in England and Wales by the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn and is registered as an Associate with the Supreme Court of The Bahamas.


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.