Data politics

In an article at the New York Times, Stuart A. Thompson reports on how conspiracy theorists turn to different search engines to find and point to misinformation. The author mentions the difficulty of “data voids” with trending topics.

Newer and more esoteric conspiracy theories are far more likely to return misleading results because of the so-called data void. Conspiracy theorists tend to publish content about new ideas long before mainstream sources, dominating search results as the terms begin spreading online. Other topics never grab the attention of mainstream sources, giving the conspiracy theorists a long-term presence in search results.

In an article by Yuval Noah Harari at the Financial Times, he talks about how Israel has “vaccines for data” deal with the company Pfizer:

Meanwhile, Israel has the seventh highest average confirmed case rate, and to counter the disaster it resorted to a “vaccines for data” deal with the American corporation Pfizer. Pfizer agreed to provide Israel with enough vaccines for the entire population, in exchange for huge amounts of valuable data, raising concerns about privacy and data monopoly, and demonstrating that citizens’ data is now one of the most valuable state assets.

Read more about it also in an article titled “Vaccines For Data: Israel’s Pfizer Deal Drives Quick Rollout — And Privacy Worries” at

Politico reported on some new EU regulations which would restrict the exports of surveillance technologies by companies.

The update to EU rules, expected to be agreed within weeks, would set up a comprehensive EU list of technologies that governments can control through licensing. It would also increase due diligence obligations on companies to check if their goods can be used by their clients to violate human rights.

An article from CNET reports on the use of “keyword warrants” in police investigations the US:

Typically, probable cause is needed for search warrants, which are associated with a suspect or address. The demands for information are narrowly tailored to a specific individual. Keyword warrants go against that concept by giving up data on a large group of people associated with searching for certain phrases.

Sarah Jeong at The Verge writes about what she calls the ideology “information-nationalism.” According to her this ideology has two main assumptions:

  1. When your country acknowledges human rights abuses, you are made weak
  2. You can weaken rival nation-states by exposing their human rights abuses

And that information-nationalism “is not about mythologies or misinformation. When you play the game of information-nationalism, you don’t slander your enemies; you tell the truth about them, while hiding the truth about yourself.

In her article she gives a lot of examples of how this explains recent controversies in the relations US-China relations such as the forced sale of TikTok. Read her full article here.