IGF 2023 WS #512 Challenges of Digital Colonialism in the Global South


Human Rights & Freedoms
Non-discrimination in the Digital Space
Rights to Access and Information

Organizer 1: Cynthia Picolo de Azevedo Carvalho, 🔒
Organizer 2: Gabriela Buarque, 🔒
Organizer 3: Luiza Morales, Laboratório de Políticas Públicas e Internet

Speaker 1: Kristophina Shilongo, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 2: Silva Tarcizio, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: Ubongabasi Obot, Civil Society, African Group
Speaker 4: de Almeida Maryellen Crisóstomo, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Cynthia Picolo de Azevedo Carvalho, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Online Moderator

Gabriela Buarque, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Luiza Morales, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)


Other - 90 Min
Format description: The purpose of this proposal is to explore how colonial landmarks continue to be shaped especially in the Global South, assessing their ethical, social and economic challenges. As such, we believe that a hybrid session with an expository presentation (panel) followed by a round table will fit in with the objectives we seek.

In the first moment, speakers will be invited to briefly present the technological panorama of their countries (5 minutes each). The initial observations will be made in questions previously asked by the moderator.

After that, we will move to more of a roundtable format, where the moderator will instigate speakers to provide inputs to help answer the three questions raised.

Speakers can intervene in each other's thoughts to investigate an issue, add a note, or even ask questions about a specific topic. There will also be a Q&A round with questions from the in-person/online audience. We plan a debate with an expository part followed by a more active discussion in this informative and participatory session.

Policy Question(s)

A. What is meant by data colonialism as a result of digital operations within sub-representative groups?
B. What social and economic challenges do these digital activities entail?
C. What is the impact of digital technologies on inclusion and diversity?
D. What are the alternatives for resistance and mitigation of these problems?

What will participants gain from attending this session? Participants and attendee will be exposed to a reality in which poor regulation and lack of inclusion facilitate the exploitation of data from marginalized groups by richer countries/more powerful groups. Participants will be able to reflect on the need to encourage the digital sovereignty of groups and nations; datafication awareness; and the inclusion of all people in democratic processes of development, debate and regulation of technologies.
With this session, we also hope to encourage the public and participants to create connections to continue advancing the issue for joint solutions to build a digital ecosystem that, even if transversal, respects the particularities and cultural identity of groups, especially the most vulnerable ones.


The session will analyze the effects of digital colonialism in the Global South. To this end, the discussion will gather insights from specialists of sub-representative groups, including black and quilombola communities from Brazil, Namibia, and Nigeria. Reflections are to be made on sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality, and the impact of the big techs in nations and groups considered peripheral.

What is the impact of digital technologies on maintaining powers and hierarchical structures? Do large IT corporations influence populations equally or equitably across the planet? These are some provocations we will make for exploring particularities of this issue and their ramifications in terms of inclusion, diversity and respect for human rights.

The idea of ​​data colonialism is conceived as a combination of the predatory practices of historical colonialism with the abstract quantification of computational methods, dealing with a new type of appropriation in which people or things become part of informational connection infrastructures.

Despite the expression “data colonialism” being used as a general way for big techs to colonize societies with data collection devices, as an initial and transitory appropriation process for the consolidation of another phase of capitalism, the observation of the capital dynamics indicates that data colonialism must also, and mainly, be understood as a process of impoverishment of peripheral countries in the face of vulnerable data platforms.

We will start the discussion from a decolonial vision, which observes the defined domination from political-economic arrangements. In this point, justice requires dismantling these arrangements and replacing them with changes that embody decolonial commitments. From this perspective, we will investigate what are the manifestations of digital colonialism within sub-representative groups, also discussing possibilities and alternatives of resistance. This final assessment will provide insights into a broader perspective on data colonialism from the perspective of people who live and study the phenomenon.

Expected Outcomes

With this session, we hope to provide the public with an overview of the phenomenon of data colonialism, its dynamics, and how people's rights and international standards are violated in this context. In addition, we intend to identify alternatives for resistance and mitigation of these problems.

The reflections of this debate will serve as inputs to guide decisions and public policymakers. In addition, based on this discussion, we intend to initiate a project to raise awareness on the subject, aimed especially at underrepresented populations with a history of colonialism in their roots.

Hybrid Format: Preparatory meetings between LAPIN and speakers will take place. This will help to structure the presentation and create synergy. That occasion will also serve to clarify doubts about the session and IGF rules.

Moreover, at least one month before the event we will release content on social media about the topic. This 'warm-up' will serve to arouse the audience's interest.

We plan a 1h30 session:
5 minutes for introduction;
30 minutes for speakers’ initial presentations;
50 minutes of dynamic discussion between speakers and the audience, guided by the moderator. Questions will come from the moderator and the online/onsite audience. Online questions can be sent through IGF platform’s chat or LAPIN’s social media. We will take note of not addressed questions to forward them to the panelists, whose answers will be shared on our social media;
5 minutes to sum up the points covered and close the panel.