PhD Researcher in Global Development Studies Chagnon Christopher

63600 €

From Z(ambia) to A(mazon Inc.): Investigating Zambian Approaches to Personal Data Harvesting

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Kaksivuotinen

The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), based upon the introduction and proliferation of the internet and smart devices, has caused unprecedented socioeconomic changes in a short period of time. Just as previous industrial revolutions were driven by the exploitation of newly-profitable resources, the 4IR is driven by the resource of personal data (data). Companies which extracted resources that drove previous industrial revolutions became extremely valuable. Today 8 of the 10 most valuable companies in the world are tech companies that lead in harvesting data. While resource extractive companies have caused massive environmental impacts in their pursuit of resources, tech companies have arguably caused widespread social damage in their pursuit of data. These issues are often framed as ones of the "developed" world and approaches to ICT are often projected as universal. In reality, ICT usage, development, and issues are strongly tied varied cultural contexts. ICT usage in the global South is rapidly expanding and new modalities of usage and development are emerging. Despite this, there are still significant research gaps on the growth of ICT in the global South, particularly in Africa. Within Africa, Zambia provides a significant context. Internet penetration has tripled in 9 years to over 60%. The Zambian government has enacted new laws to deal with the rapidly growing and changing ICT landscape while simultaneously pushing to make Zambia a tech hub. Zambia is grappling with the opportunities and challenges of rapidly expanding ICT usage and tech sector growth. There is an opportunity to try to understand the impacts of, and uniquely Zambian approaches to, these changes. This can provide locally and globally impactful insights. This research seeks to develop a greater understanding of the tension between the perceived social and economic benefits of the development of ICT in Zambia, the harms it may entail, and resistances and alternative approaches it stimulates.