In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. Sarah Lamdan brings us into the unregulated underworld of these “data cartels”, demonstrating how the entities mining, commodifying, and selling our data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.
Just a few companies dominate most of our critical informational resources. Often self-identifying as “data analytics” or “business solutions” operations, they supply the digital lifeblood that flows through the circulatory system of the internet. With their control over data, they can prevent the free flow of information, masterfully exploiting outdated information and privacy laws and curating online information in a way that amplifies digital racism and targets marginalized communities. They can also distribute private information to predatory entities. Alarmingly, everything they’re doing is perfectly legal.
In this book, Lamdan contends that privatization and tech exceptionalism have prevented us from creating effective legal regulation. This in turn has allowed oversized information oligopolies to coalesce. In addition to specific legal and market-based solutions, Lamdan calls for treating information like a public good and creating digital infrastructure that supports our democratic ideals.