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CITP Seminar: Dan Calacci – Why Data Rights Should be Labor Rights: Data Protection and AI Regulation for Gig Workers and Beyond

Tuesday, October 31, 2023
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


306 Sherrerd Hall
A headshot of a person wearing a baseball cap and a pink shirt with various colors.

Video available here.

Workers everywhere are more surveilled, managed, and quantified by technology than ever before, harming people’s health, safety, and dignity at work. Gig workers like Uber and Lyft drivers are at the mercy of these firms’ latest changes to their algorithms and platforms. While pundits worry about generative AI replacing creative jobs, white-collar workers experience increasingly draconian forms of workplace surveillance and algorithmic scoring. Warehouse workers suffer serious workplace safety violations due to algorithmically-backed “nudges”. Yet, the bulk of data protection and AI regulation in the US and EU either excludes workers entirely or fundamentally fails to meet worker needs. Why is this the case, and what do workers in the US and EU need from data and AI regulation?

This talk argues that current regulatory frameworks focus too much on the rights of and harms to individual ‘data subjects’. This focus ignores the main reason why workers seek data access and protection in the first place: to collectively exert greater agency and control over their work. In lieu of comprehensive regulation, workers use existing laws and technologies to put pressure on companies and leverage the data they produce at work. Calacci will  share what they see as the forefront of this movement, including ongoing projects from their own research, and the challenges and opportunities ahead in policymaking and technology design for the future of labor.


Dan Calacci is a postdoctoral research associate at CITP. Calacci studies the technical, social, and legal implications of data and AI on communities and workers. They are passionate about designing technologies with workers and community members that help answer their most pressing questions about the impact of AI, new platforms, and surveillance on their lives. Calacci received their Ph.D. from MIT’s Media Lab in 2023, and a B.S. in computer science from Northeastern University in 2015. Calacci also has experience as a startup co-founder and a mixed-media artist. Their writing and work has appeared or been featured in NPR’s Radiolab, Gizmodo, Wired, Reuters, The Atlantic’s CityLab, the New York Times, and other major publications.

If you need an accommodation for a disability please contact Jean Butcher at  at least one week before the event.