This paper asks the question whether current data regulations designed to curb digital surveillance are enabling for Global South activists seeking to create systemic social change in today’s data-driven societies. This text proposes five measures to answer this question and devise a decolonial pathway to improve the human condition, namely: a) Recognize the long legacy of distrust of the law among activists; b) Channel our energies more on local governance and less on (trans)national regulation; c) Shift focus from the individual to the collective rights approach; d) Attend to motivations for publicity over privacy; e) Re-frame activism from grand movements to everyday creative insurgencies. This paper starts with the premise that laws and regulations have deep political interests often rooted in neocolonial ideologies and are not necessarily designed and executed for the protection of all citizens. Laws may evoke different meanings among the world’s marginalized communities, far from the sacrosanct position they hold among many in the West. This work argues for a decolonial approach—to go beyond the data-centric and individual consent framework to genuinely understand the complex relationship between surveillance, privacy, activism, and law at the peripheries in the Global South and to foster dignity for all.

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Journal Surveillance and Society
Arora, P.A. (2019). General data protection regulation—a global standard? Privacy futures, digital activism, and surveillance cultures in the global south. Surveillance and Society, 17(5), 717–725. doi:10.24908/ss.v17i5.13307