Data Labour 


This project put forward a hypothesis of what it would be like when people are tired of being cautious about privacy.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, the discussion of privacy has become more intense due to the high popularity of the Internet. On the one hand, people are concerned about their privacy being violated. On the other hand, if they can trade privacy for convenience, security, or efficiency, they are willing to do so in many cases.

I envision a future society where privacy (data) becomes private property protected by law, with companies and institutions being able to purchase personal data from individuals who now independently produce, collect and sell their data. Individuals now hold power over their own data and can protect their right to privacy, but on the other hand, they have also become "data labourers" at the lowest end of an industrial chain.


Fearful of the consequences of "surveillance", as posited by dystopic novels such as Orwell's 1984; people begin to resist. The law intervenes and its protections around personal privacy and data strengthen. With direct surveillance of the public restricted, data-capitalists establish a new “data market”. Privacy and data are now private property that can be traded on the market.

In this environment, people's definitions and attitudes towards privacy become driven by economic benefits. They individually monitor, collect and sell their own data. They become data-labourers.

The data-capitalists purchase the raw data, like most raw materials, at a very low price. True value is added only when these "materials" have been transformed into processed "commodities". These data-capitalists use their knowledge and technology to process and analyze the raw data to form "information" that can guide their decisions. These decisions ultimately affect the life of the data-labourer.

The rights surrounding a person's private data have been strengthened, but how this data can be used has not been standardized. The fears of 'Orwellian' surveillance are eased; creating instead a society as in Kafka's 'The Trial', where the concern lies in how data is processed or used and for what purposes.