Igor Calzada on the Relationship between Platform Cooperatives and Data Cooperatives

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An interview with Igor Calzada relating platform coops to data coops:

"DIGILABOUR: What are the challenges to strengthen alternative data ownership regimes and data commons?

CALZADA: First and foremost, we should acknowledge the shift produced in data governance models. It is only very recent since policymakers and academics have started noticing the side effects of the extractive data business models as entirely business-as-usual approach. As such, even the European Commission has been tirelessly working in launching the GDPR as a cutting-edge legislation influencing internationally many governments, which essentially nurture the way in which some cities and regions have dared to experiment with new models anchoring in the main idea that citizens should own their data. Despite the fact that there are a few known models about data commons, we are witnessing at present a huge shift in the smart city discourse eminently pushed ahead by supranational institutions such as United Nations.

DIGILABOUR: How do you relate platform co-ops and data commons?

CALZADA: It is a pertinent question. Platform co-operativism is a movement rooted in social entrepreneurship and the potential of digital platforms. Among platform co-operatives, we may find data co-operatives that mutualise the value of data among members and thus by using intermediaries. The most challenging aspect at this stage is how we can mutualise personal data when this data (paradoxically) has been systematically extracted to feed big data-opolies. Without clear data ecosystems organised at sectoral level, data will never become a commons. Here is what Smart City Citizenship attempts to demonstrate: the importance of these relationships in ensuring high standards of democracy. DIGILABOUR: What are the potentials of platform and data co-ops – especially in relation to technological sovereignty and grassroots innovation? CALZADA: We are in very early stages but the pandemic crisis has accelerated the need and the hope for such transformations. And what are the challenges to build platform and data co-ops outside cities like Barcelona? As I mentioned in a recent Sustainability journal article, there are several internal and external challenges that should be inevitably addressed.

[QUOTE – Calzada 2020, p. 16]

- “Platform and data co-operatives may alter existing data governance extractivism in the post-COVID-19 era if

  • (i) the government play a leading role in crisis provisioning,
  • (ii) businesses behave co-operatively, and
  • (iii) civil society and the effectiveness of local community solidarity provides strong social capital for “pandemic citizens.” Moreover, according to this academically interesting contribution, platform and data co-operatives should focus on the foundational transformations needed in (i) health and care, (ii) housing and energy, (iii) food, (iv) social care and licensing, (v) tax reform, (vi) pension funds and the insurance provision of material infrastructure, (vii) life and work transition plans for local urban and rural areas, (viii) governments’ capacity building, and (ix) global solidarity.”"