Cover of Data Cartels by Sarah Lamdan
Data Cartels
The Companies That Control and Monopolize Our Information
Sarah Lamdan


November 2022
224 pages.
from $26.00

Hardcover now $42.50 (50% off)
Paperback now $13.00 (50% off)

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503615076
Paperback ISBN: 9781503633711
Ebook ISBN: 9781503633728

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Excerpts and More

In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. Sarah Lamdan brings us into the unregulated underworld of these "data cartels", demonstrating how the entities mining, commodifying, and selling our data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.

Just a few companies dominate most of our critical informational resources. Often self-identifying as "data analytics" or "business solutions" operations, they supply the digital lifeblood that flows through the circulatory system of the internet. With their control over data, they can prevent the free flow of information, masterfully exploiting outdated information and privacy laws and curating online information in a way that amplifies digital racism and targets marginalized communities. They can also distribute private information to predatory entities. Alarmingly, everything they're doing is perfectly legal.

In this book, Lamdan contends that privatization and tech exceptionalism have prevented us from creating effective legal regulation. This in turn has allowed oversized information oligopolies to coalesce. In addition to specific legal and market-based solutions, Lamdan calls for treating information like a public good and creating digital infrastructure that supports our democratic ideals.

About the author

Sarah Lamdan is Professor of Law at the City University of New York School of Law. She also serves as a Senior Fellow for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, a Fellow at NYU School of Law's Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy.

"Lamdan offers a timely, ambitious, and original contribution about a set of issues that are of vital importance to the study of technology, law, and society."

—Anil Kalhan, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

"Powerful and a great read! This book definitely stirs the pot."

—Nicole Dyszlewski, Roger Williams University School of Law

"From scientific information to legal information to massive dossiers on each and every one of us and more, Sarah Lamdan's beautifully researched book delves into the shadowy world of big data. A fascinating read!"

—Carl Malamud,

"Lamdan's research is solid. Her book would be a nice addition to both large academic and legal libraries."

—Michael Sawyer, Library Journal

"Having been involved in efforts to raise awareness of the impacts of data brokers over the past decade, I appreciate Lamdan's hopeful stance that it is not too late to reverse course and create a better world. Her rhetoric is powerful, her writing colourful and her critique vigorous."

—Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe, Nature

"Lamdan's seminal work on the legal information market and the companies that own them is integral to how we work with these products, teach them to our students, and demo them to our patrons."

—Mari Cheney, AALL Spectrum

"Lamdan's work is groundbreaking yet intimately familiar to us in the librarian profession.... Her bold approach breaks down the barrier and serves as a metaphorical lighthouse to our work. It gives us a reason to recommend her book to library advocates so that they can realize how these companies are operating in the informational capitalism age. This book should be required reading for all librarians who advocate that information is power."

—Edward Junhao Lim, Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship

"This book needs to be adopted as part of the canon of the profession. It brings clear evidence to bear and articulates the conundrums we face daily in an almost matter of fact way. If you have spent any time working in a library, academic or otherwise, you will have certainly seen the slow and steady drift toward monopolisation of all the content that we lease. What is refreshing is that this is written in such a way that those outside of librarianship will be compelled by the stories that it tells. Next time a friend says 'it must be nice to read all day' lend them your dog-eared copy of this book so that they understand first-hand where the war is being fought."

—Tim Ribaric, Canadian Journal of Academic Librarianship

"It is sometimes crudely assumed that whoever owns our data can control us. Sarah Lamdan's Data Cartels brings a rather more subtle perspective."

Times Literary Supplement

"This book—including the footnotes—is an engaging and insightful read. This spotlight on big data will hopefully bring these companies out of the shadows and into the public eye. Highly recommended."

—R. I. Saltz, CHOICE

"Lamdan's extensive background with US law and legal resources make her an ideal figure to discuss the problems that can occur when just a few major players monopolize a market and when the US government is slow to react... Lamdan's book does an excellent job in alerting us to the issues posed by new data technology."

—Kelly Blessinger, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication

"Data Cartels: The Companies That Control and Monopolize Our Information makes a substantial contribution to that approach as well as to the sociology of knowledge. Lamdan brings a fresh, first-person perspective of a practitioner to the analysis of what has been called 'the data gold rush'."

—Sue Curry Jansen, International Journal of Communication

"In Data Cartels, Sarah Lamdan offers an essential analysis of the issues that the privatization of access to information creates. Through her research, she brings into focus how individuals are wronged on a daily basis."

—Maria Stoicescu, H-Sci-Med-Tech