ODB at the 2019 Internet Freedom Festival in Valencia, Spain

By Kim M Reynolds and Seeta Peña Gangadharan

Fresh off the launch of the Digital Defense Playbook: Community Power Tools for Reclaiming Data, Our Data Bodies presented Building Power Not Paranoia: Community-Based Data Defense, at the 5th annual Internet Freedom Festival  in Valencia, Spain. This workshop galvanized the festival’s commitment to elevating the voices of marginalized people and connected ODB to an international community of practice around the data rights, data justice, and digital safety.

Tamika Lewis, a 2019 Internet Freedom Festival Fellow in Community Resilience, kicked off the hour-long session with a meditative exercise that invited the 30-plus people in the room to consider the importance of embodiment and of the body in the work that they do. 

Mariella Saba then moved to an activity that invited participants to deepen their bodily awareness and physically represent their data body. She asked participants to reflect on different kinds of data that different systems or institutions collected as participants journey to IFF.

“What data was collected on your body to arrive here at the IFF?”

Mariella Saba

Participants shared answers that ranged from festival name tags to airport security measures. 

Following group discussion, participants split into small groups and were asked to think about the issues of data collection they currently face, such as biased hiring algorithms in job searches, over-policing of one’s community, or other issues. After identifying issues, each group then brainstormed around solutions, generating ideas that sought to build community power and combat paranoia.

By the end of the session, participants affirmed the importance of meeting and talking about shared realities, offering strategies and tactics, and being connected with one another when fighting surveillance and dehumanizing data-driven systems.

The below pictures capture some of the reflections and solutions brainstormed by workshop participants: