talk - presentation - panel Down with datacenters: developing critical policy for environmentally sustainable tech in Europe January 2024
Fieke Jansen and Corinne Cath are organizing a panel with a focus on data centers at Privacy Camp 24 in Brussels on 24 Jan. Data centers – the large windowless buildings full of server racks providing the computational power of the digital society – are increasingly at the heart of political contention in Europe. The building of hyperscalers in the Netherlands, Ireland and Spain are aided by opaque governance processes and have met resistance from local communities. These examples are indicative of a larger trend. Across Europe, large Big Tech companies are buying up land, gobbling up natural resources like water, wind, and energy, to build large-scale data centers for selling privacy-invasive services and software. Where local protests against the impending arrival of hyperscalers have been successful they have displaced its construction to other, often more vulnerable territories.
To address concerns around the energy consumption of data centers the EU is developing some guidelines to limit the tech industries’ carbon footprint– i.e. in the energy directive–and some nation-states are considering data center policy. Yet, none of these state interventions addresses the premise of infinite growth and extraction for which these data centers are built. We believe that given the growth of these data centers, a critical intervention is needed now that sets the tone for EU-wide debates on the future of the computing industry, one that centers people and planet over profit and capital.
- Dr. Corinne Cath, postdoctoral researcher at the programmable infrastructures group (led by Dr. Seda Gürses) of the University of Delft
- Dr. Fieke Jansen, post-doctoral researcher and co-PI critical at the infrastructure lab, University of Amsterdam
- Claire Pershan, EU Advocacy Lead for the Mozilla Foundation, Mozilla
- Kim van Sparrentak, MEP GroenLinks Europa, The Greens/EFA
- Michelle Thorne, Director of Strategy and Partnerships at the Green Web Foundation and a co-initiator of the Green Screen Coalition