Existing approaches to regulating the political economy of data – and the power asymmetries they enable – fail to tackle many collective harms. The power and capital of tech companies is bolstered by the ways in which data-centric technologies intersect with labour. This has been increasingly evident in the context of gig work, whereby data and algorithmic management have been used to surveil, control and reorganise the workforce, resulting in tangible, systemic harms. While GDPR rights are increasingly used strategically to tackle these power asymmetries and render digital infrastructures more transparent, important questions remain as to their collective dimension. Moreover, recent policy developments aimed at addressing some of these unequal power dynamics rarely prioritise labour concerns and workers’ perspectives. This panel will explore the challenges faced and raised by regulatory initiatives, looking at on-the-ground efforts to better engage with the collective.
• What is the problem with data protection law discourse focusing on the individual rather than the collective? What are the practical challenges that manifest due to this individualisation of rights?
• What can the labour perspective bring to a better engagement with collective rights in the regulatory and governance debates on data and technology?
• How do some of the on-the-ground efforts illustrate ways of collectivising and what role do data (transparency) rights play in these wider efforts?
• How can current legislative efforts regulating technology (companies) better address collective harms?