Data Colonialism and Data Localization: Issues and Challenges

  • R. Subramani Associate Professor, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Periyar University, Salem, Tamil Nadu, India
Keywords: Data, Colonisation, Localisation, Commodification, Digital, Extraction


The zeitgeist of the 21st century is warped, managed, and altogether driven by the slew of technological applications. They have usurped every activity of our life in its hold in such a way that wherever we turn, we find them interfacing, navigating, and monitoring human life. The juggernaut of trade, commerce,and marketing made the entry that has taken this world in its firm grasp and the engine of marketing is consuming data of every citizen as its fuel. This function invariably brings in vast profits to large corporations and multi-national establishments which do not feel it necessary to take the consent of citizens and share the windfall they gain. This new order is literally thriving by harvesting, poaching, and appropriating citizens’ life (data) which serve them as fodder or oil that spurs and keeps them financially in good stead. With the end of colonial era across the globe, gone are the evils associated with it, and here comes, new masters in the garb of multiple technologies, who are equally vicious, awfully exploitative, and with dour demeanour dominate our lives. Frankly speaking, now we are sort of re-colonized as our data is collected and used in the premise of bettering our lives. Of late, Global South’s some of the developing governments in order to secure their local interest are pushing for localizing data, but this stance has many pitfalls attached to it as data localization will give increased access to the government, which may put its own people under surveillance for varied reasons. Therefore, at this juncture, human beings are caught up between the cleft stick. On one hand, data colonialism uses them as commodities (commoditization) while data localization makes them the subject of State surveillance. Hence, this paper comprehensively examines the corresponding complex issues and thoroughly peruses the embedded challenges straddling data colonialism and data localization.

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