Lives in a Data Society: Self, State, and the Market

The impact of digital technologies and data sets on our societies is increasing by the day. The shift from offline modes of transaction, interaction, and transmission of information has accrued several benefits along the way. However, digital technologies and data sets do not operate in isolation, but they do reflect the existing norms of the real world. In the process, the marginalised are disproportionately affected. These divides and numerous issues, like privacy, safety, techno-fetishism, lack of open data sets, among others, pose a threat to democratic values. Through this series, EPW Engage looks at some of these issues, their repercussions, particularly in India, and ways to leverage the full potential of data society that we live in.

Though the Personal Data Protection Bill has been hailed as a success for citizen rights, an in-depth analysis of the same reveals evidence to the contrary.
The digitisation of welfare delivery systems cannot be at the cost of the marginalised, who continue to bear the brunt of the government’s techno-fetishism.
Though they may seem as such, AI technologies are not merely technical systems. Rather, they are constitutive, and indicative, of the sociopolitical contexts that they are situated in.
In the digital economy, data inequity adversely affects consumers in the financial sector, especially the ones limited by choices due to their geographic location and/or socioeconomic status. To tide over these problems, India introduced the account aggregator system in 2016, enabling financial...
Data is the new currency. Drawing parallels between existing taxation and data structures helps us to understand how data is being monetised by the government and private firms. But, the lack of a robust data protection architecture in India raises serious concerns.
Globally, while there has been a shift towards open data policies, some Government of India’s departments have gone the opposite way. They have decided to stop putting out data in the public domain. Data enthusiasts and voluntary organisations have been pitching in with their efforts to build open...
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