Data, Society
and the
Politics of Digital Information


  • low-cost data collection methods

  • low-cost data storage technologies

  • low-cost analytics

  • low demand of human resources

  • automatization, algorhythms, AI

Data states

  • lists, tables of the state's wealth, goods and possessions - 3000BC

  • first demographic data collection - Florence, 14th Century

  • first demographic data analysis - William Petty (1623–1687) and John Graunt (1620–1674)

  • First modern census: 1719, I. Frederick William (Soldatenkönig), Prussia=garrison state

  • 1749 - Gottfried Achenwall: statistik, from the italian word: statista
    1819 - L'homme moyen by Quetelet
    1850's - Control revolution - high level of bureaucratization

Data states

  • basic demographic data

  • ethnic, religious data (German ini.)

  • education (French)

  • health (American, English)

  • poverty (English)

  • "moral" or criminal statistics (French)

  • elections (French)

Data states

  • absolute monarchies

  • Enlightenment

  • espionage, secret services, state apparatus, military logistic

  • ​knowing the state, planned state

  • Prussia, Bourbon house, Napoleon, Bach-era (AHM)

Modern data states

  • informer-networks - Stasi 100k, KGB 1m people

  • Russia, USA, China

  • mixed analogue and digital methods

  • data collection outsourced to tech giants

  • connecting personal data is "forbidden" by law in democracies

  • state monopoly


  • loosing, emptying privacy

  • predicative judgements by algorythms

  • "good intentioned" digital instruments and tools - health apps

  • unpredictable harms - what seemed to be "precise" data collection for organization or production, can be the groundwork for exploitation, invasion or even genocide


  • the problem is not only the growth of the risks, but the change of the nature of the risks

  • many time the exchange is consensual - they ask us to provide information without knowing how the information will be used in the future and for what purpose

  • we make decisions based on past and present knowledge, but we can't (or we don't want) measure future risks

  • Enemy of the State, 1998
    Minority Report, 2002​

Public interest

we give our data


Public interest

  • isolation of the state

  • defunct open data initiatives

  • governmental interventions

  • re-definition of public interest data

  •  badly designed regulation

  • falling of the citizen interest in public interest

  • "stateism"

Public interest

  • badly designed institutions

  • different, outdated data formats

  • decreasing availability of data

  • closed academic sphere, rare collaboration

  • bad quality of data

  • non-reliable data (non-transparent and unaccountable)

  • intentional wrongdoings, damaging of data