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  • Published: 6 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9780753560211
  • Imprint: WH Allen
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $36.99

Data Grab

The new Colonialism of Big Tech and how to fight back

Leading global experts provide a sweeping, empowering playbook to tackle what Yuval Harari has described as one of the biggest threats to humanity, for fans of Shoshana Zuboff's internationally bestselling THE AGE OF SURVEILLANCE CAPITALISM

Your life online is their product.

In the past, colonialism was a landgrab of natural resources, exploitative labour and private property from countries around the world. It promised to modernise and civilise, but actually sought to control. It stole from native populations and made them sign contracts they didn’t understand. It took resources just because they were there.

Colonialism has not disappeared – it has taken on a new form.

In the new world order, data is the new oil. Big Tech companies are grabbing our most basic natural resources – our data – exploiting our labour and connections, and repackaging our information to control our views, track our movements, record our conversations and discriminate against us. Every time we unthinkingly click ‘Accept’ on Terms and Conditions, we allow our most personal information to kept indefinitely, repackaged by big Tech companies to control and exploit us for their own profit.

In this searing, cutting-edge guide, two leading global researchers – and founders of the concept of data colonialism – reveal how history can help us both to understand the emerging future and to fight back.

  • Published: 6 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9780753560211
  • Imprint: WH Allen
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $36.99

About the authors

Ulises A. Mejias

Professor Ulises A. Mejias (Mexican American) is a critical media theorist, recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship, and a Fulbright Specialist from 2021 to 2025.

Nick Couldry

Professor Nick Couldry (British) is a sociologist of media and culture at the London School of Economics and a Faculty Associate at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

Praise for Data Grab

As in their previous work, Mejias and Couldry show how important it is to take the perspective of the colonized, not the colonizer, in explaining how the digital world is governed. Data Grab offers important insights into how we should analyse power and counter-power in terms of data control. I particularly recommend this book for providing examples of local and vocal initiatives across various continents. A true eye-opener

José van Dijck, Distinguished Professor of Media and Digital Society, Utrecht University

In this essential and original work, Mejias and Couldry lay out a powerful and persuasive analysis of the logical continuity between modern colonialism and the extraction of data by Big Tech and its platforms. Their call to resist data colonialism could not be more urgent or more timely

Jeremy Gilbert, author of 'Hegemony Now: How Big Tech and Wall Street Won the World' and 'Twenty-First Century Socialism'

Data Grab offers a fascinating and accessible exploration of how our colonial history drives today’s data landscape. It not only puts current data injustices and cruelties into context, it charts a path of how we might resist

Bruce Schneier, author of 'A Hacker's Mind: How the Powerful Bend Society’s Rules, and How to Bend Them Back'

Remarkable... Data Grab helps us understand that the historical and ongoing relations of power have extended to the realm of data, a new raw material of digital capitalism. Mejias and Couldry place us on a path to recognise, resist, and challenge these forces

Dr Ramesh Srinivasan, Professor at the UCLA Department of Information Studies and Director of UC Digital Cultures Lab

This elegant, lucid work distills the common themes linking data colonialism to previous forms of colonialism, while also provocatively cataloguing differences. Essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the political economy of Big Tech, Big Data, Big Compute, and (the coming) Big AI

Julie E. Cohen, author of 'Between Truth and Power: The Legal Constructions of Informational Capitalism'

Mejias and Couldry have long been at the forefront of revealing the hidden power structures at play in our data-fueled digital era. With their new book Data Grab, they once again deliver their much-needed incisive analysis. They gift us with the vocabulary to understand - and thus resist - the extractive forces turning our bodies and lives into objects of datafication. Their words arrive right on time as we begin to navigate the latest wave of artificial intelligence

Karen Hao

A blistering, vital exposure of the predatory world of data colonialism. In this vivid and passionately written book, Mejias and Couldry urge us to wake up to the invasive and extractive world of today’s Big Tech

Mike Savage, author of 'Social Class in the 21st Century'

A brilliant account both of colonialism and Big Tech, and a bold and provocative argument that the latter is a version of the former because of the way it dispossesses people of what should be theirs: data about their lives. It is furiously precise about the crimes of the European colonial system, and illuminating on how opaque and unaccountable tech industries shape our world

David Hesmondhalgh, author of 'The Cultural Industries'

I wish that Data Grab was required reading when I was a graduate student working in the field of AI. Perspectives like these are crucial if we are to break the colonial paradigm that pervades computing disciplines

Timnit Gebru, founder of the Distributed AI Research Institute

Mejias and Couldry provide a terrifying and well researched account of how our personal data are being extracted and exploited for corporate profit. This data grab concentrates wealth and power in the Global North, encages us all in consumer bubbles, and erodes our privacy. More than a compelling read, Data Grab is also a call to arms for how we can reclaim our humanity and resist becoming ground up as grist for the data mills

Ifeoma Ajunwa, author of 'The Quantified Worker'


i paper, 'Best new books to read in February 2024'