Me and My Big Data – Developing Citizens’ Data Literacies

Year of production: 2021

Led by Professor Simeon Yates, the outline for this project was developed just before the “Cambridge Analytica” scandal broke. This made clear the extent to which we as citizens are unaware of the uses and abuses to which our data can be put.

Improving digital literacy was already a key policy goal of governments worldwide. A key component of citizens‘ digital literacy is an understanding of the uses of their personal data. Unfortunately, evidence from UK (Ofcom) and USA (Pew) indicates that many citizens have limited understanding of the data they share, its use by organisations, nor basic data protection behaviours. Nor are they aware of how they can utilise publicly available data to undertake both personal and civic action.

This lack of “data literacy” opens citizens up to risks and limits their ability to operate as active citizens in a digital society. Also, evidence is growing of inequalities in data literacy that mirror broader social inequality.


In this context, this project aims to examine and address these issues in four broad ways:

  • explore through survey data and citizen workshops the extent of citizens’ data literacy
  • analyse the social basis of variations and inequalities in data literacy across a range of factors
  • develop training and support materials for schools, universities and third sector groups in order to enhance citizen’s data literacy
  • develop policy recommendations for stakeholders on enhancing citizen data literacy.


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University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool is a public research university based in the city of Liverpool, England.

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Simeon Yates

Simeon is Professor of Digital Culture and Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research Environment and Postgraduate Research. He has undertaken research on the social, political and cultural impacts of digital media since 1990. Since 2004 he has mainly focused on projects that address issues of digital inclusion and exclusion. In 2017 he seconded to the UK Government's Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to act as research lead for the Digital Culture team – helping to develop the first UK “Digital Culture” policy. He is a Member Greater Manchester City Region Mayoral Digital Inclusion Action Network and was the joint-chair of the DCMS Research Working Group on Digital Inclusion and Skills.