LTMS events

TILT seminar: Prof. Kirstie Ball (University of St Andrews, UK) and Dr. Jorge Campos, (University of Leiden)

Date: Time: 13:00 Location: Room M1003 and MS Teams

'There’s gotta be some perks in it, otherwise no point in doin’ it at all, is there?’ Exploring the normative dilemmas of data donation


This paper explores how citizen-subjects negotiate the normative dilemmas which arise during the process of data donation. It contributes to theoretical, empirical and policy debates surrounding the phenomenon. Data donation is defined as an ‘act, by the data subject, of voluntarily allowing their personal data to be transferred to a third-party that is requesting it, with the objective of promoting public good or for wider social benefit’ (Campos 2021: 60). Smarter Cities utilise data donation to involve citizens in city planning innovations. The paper finds that in negotiating whether to donate data, citizens experience normative dilemmas not only concerning whether to reveal information to an institution, but also in relation to the digitisation of their everyday lives. They are concerned with how they are seen by themselves and others, the different social groups of which they are part as well as by surveilling institutions. Contrasting normative configurations are used to describe the dilemmas inherent in the collection, analysis and dissemination of donated data. The paper finds that the collection and analysis of donated data presents fewer dilemmas for citizens whereas its dissemination beyond institutional boundaries is seen as incredibly challenging. 

Conceptually, the paper is located in theories of the surveilled subject and in a wider body of scholarship which examines how data subjects connect with digital infrastructures. The paper’s policy implications relate to the limitations of user consent as the main tool to legitimise the collection and processing of data. Data donation initiatives in practice rest upon citizens’ consent and willingness to participate. Our study shows that citizens articulate risks throughout the duration of their engagement with the initiative, and that, despite providing consent, they remain concerned with the integrity of their data. Smart cities developing data donation initiatives to further involve citizens in city planning need to consider normative dilemmas beyond those which concern whether to reveal information to the city council.

Speaker: Kirstie Ball 

Kristie Ball is a Professor of Management at the University of St Andrews. She is Director of the Centre for Research into Information, Surveillance and Privacy (CRISP), Visiting Professor at the Coventry Centre for Business and Society and a member of the Institute for the Future of Work.

Speaker: Jorge Campos

Jorge Campos is an Assistant Professor in Management at Leiden University. Before joining Leiden University, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. His research focuses on consumer and organizational behaviour with a particular interest in privacy and smart city participatory practices.

Moderator: Dr. Anuj Puri

Attendance is free.

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