Data Grab

Data Grab

The new Colonialism of Big Tech and how to fight back


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.


  • 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

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.
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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.
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