Open VISIONS Forum: Espresso - David Carroll - Wednesday, March 3 at 7:30 PM

Date: 03-03-2021

Time: 07:30 PM


Free virtual event; Tune in by visiting

Open VISIONS Forum: Espresso

In affiliation with the School of Engineering

David Carroll
"Data Quest: Exposing Cambridge Analytica and the Reclaiming My Voter Profile"

David Carroll is an associate professor of media design at Parsons School of Design at The New School. He became known as an advocate for data rights after legally challenging Cambridge Analytica in the U.K. in connection with the U.S. presidential election of 2016, resulting in the only criminal conviction of the company by the Information Commissioner's Office. It's been well over a year since it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users to target advertising for President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. 

But David Carroll still hasn't been able to get his data back. Carroll filed a legal claim against the company after the scandal, demanding to see what information was in his profile. Even though the U.S. does not afford such data rights, British laws allow users to request their own data if it has been processed in the U.K. Carroll believed he was entitled to the information because Cambridge Analytica had processed the data in the U.K.

However, after Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy and was liquidated, a British court did not grant Carroll access to his data. But he hasn't given up — today, he is still engaged in the fight for his data, and remains optimistic that he may gain access through the British Information Commissioner's Office in the fall. 

Business Insider spoke with Carroll about the fight for his own data, what the U.S. can do to improve data privacy ahead of the 2020 election, and the broader struggle for data rights. He told the American financial and business news website: 

“My pursuit is a highly individualized narrative, which obscures the reality that it's a story about all of us. Quitting your Facebook account doesn't do anything. You can try to do the work of going through all your settings and being really hygienic about your data, but it's only going to reduce the scope of data leaking all over the place. It's certainly not going to have a total effect that people might want.” 

“Europeans have data rights. Americans don't have the same rights. The irony is that if Cambridge Analytica had not exported the data to England and kept it in the U.S., I would have had no recourse at all. I could have asked for my data and they could have denied the request with no obligation to respond.”

Carroll’s quest is featured in the Oscar-shortlisted and BAFTA-nominated Netflix original documentary The Great Hack (2019) and his writings on the effort have been published in WIRED, PAPER, Quartz, The Guardian, Motherboard, and The Boston Review. He was awarded prizes from The Philosophical Society and the Law Society at Trinity College Dublin in 2019. He received a BA from Bowdoin College and an MFA from Parsons. He tweets at @profcarroll.

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