Working Group 1: The Encroachments of Big Tech and Datafication: Extractivism and Resistance (Christopher Chagnon and Sophia Hagolani-Albov)


Working group chairs: Christopher Chagnon and Sophia Hagolani-Albov, University of Helsinki ( &


The 21st century has seen an unprecedented advancement of communications technology, and interconnectivity. In addition, technology has become integrated into previously untouched areas of our daily lives. This rapid technological and social change has allowed for the widespread tapping and exploitation of a previously underappreciated resource, personal data. This data, which was once the domain of governments and polling companies, is now being harvested by all kinds of different companies in both the global North and global South. There is very little oversight into how these companies are processing and selling the data collected on a massive scale. Evolving technology has allowed for the harvest of natural resources on an industrial scale, which has caused tremendous damage to the Earth and all different forms of life. We are now beginning to see the tremendous social and environmental damage caused by the industrial scale harvesting of data. This includes not only the violation of privacy, but also the physical infrastructure that is needed to support and maintain the digital spaces where data is stored and processed. As these damages have become increasingly apparent to the general public, resistance movements are forming to protect people and the environment from these incursions and in support of finding alternatives to these damaging forms of technology. This working group delves into the damages done by massive expansion of data extraction, as well as the emergence of resistance and alternatives.


Data Activism – New Futures or False Promises: Understanding Resistance to Data Capitalism
Obaid Amjad (Universitat Ramon Llull)

Resisting Datafication: Two Variations on a Luddite Theme
Syed Mustafa Ali (The Open University)
Dan McQuillan (Goldsmiths University)

Exploring Ant Forest: The Contradictions Behind a Fintech-based Green Initiative
Zhen Zeng (University of Helsinki)

Data colonialism as a structural determinant of health
Nai Kalema (UCL)

Chinese surveillance technologies and security in Cameroon: between a regulated and (de) regulatory construction of an “Orwellian governance
Auxence Augustin Koa (Université de Yaoundé II)
Alvin Ateba (Université de Yaoundé II)

Is personal data really “unnatural”?: Examining how data harvesting matches conceptions of extractivism
Christopher Chagnon (University of Helsinki)
Sophia Hagolani-Albov (University of Helsinki)