Abolish Big Data

Big Data is more than a collection of technologies, more than a revolution in measurement and prediction. It has become a philosophy, an ideological regime, one that determines how decisions are made and who makes them. It has given legitimacy to a new form of social and political control, one that has taken the digital traces of our existence and found ways to use them to sort and manage populations.

Big Data is part of a long and pervasive historical legacy of scientific oppression, aggressive public policy, and the most influential political and economic institution that has and continues to shape this country’s economy: chattel slavery.

Algorithms and other data technologies are the engines that have facilitated the ongoing evolution of chattel slavery into the Prison Industrial Complex, justified the militarization of schoolyards and borders alike, and continued the expansion of contemporary practices of peonage. Abolish Big Data is a call to action to reject the concentration of Big Data in the hands of a few, to challenge the structures that allow data to be wielded as a weapon of immense political influence. To abolish Big Data would mean to put data in the hands of people who need it the most.

  • Watch Yeshi's lecture in Amsterdam here
  • Watch Yeshi's lecture in Miami here


D4BL is responding to the overwhelming demand to bring Data for Black Lives into the communities where our network members reside with D4BL hubs. Garnering insight from our pilot program in Washington, DC, Data for Black Lives is supporting the formation of several D4BL chapters in cities throughout the country.

Hubs serve as launchpads for distributed organizing and advocacy initiatives, as well as a training source for leaders equipped with the technical skills, vision, and empathy to use data to make concrete and measurable in the communities where they live. Registration for the 2020 cohort has closed, sign up to join our hub mailing list for future opportunities to organize with D4BL in your community.

Policy Working Group

The technological and political changes we are living through demand new ways of making and doing policy.

In building on the demands of our open letter to Facebook, D4BL’s policy working group is exploring alternative models of data governance. Our policy working group creates a space for movement builders, data scientists, public interest technologists, legal scholars, and people whose lives are directly impacted by technological bias to collaborate and identify approaches/risks to data governance frameworks.

By leveraging the collective experience of people on-the-ground, across sectors and boundaries—we are committed to changing the rules that put data before Black lives to use data for Black lives.