As Western technology companies increasingly rely on user data globally, extensive data protection laws and regulations emerged to ensure ethical use of that data. These same protections, however, do not exist uniformly in the resource-rich, infrastructure-poor African countries, where Western tech seeks to establish its presence. These conditions provide an ideal landscape for digital colonialism.

Digital colonialism refers to a modern-day “Scramble for Africa” where largescale tech companies extract, analyze, and own user data for profit and market influence with nominal benefit to the data source. Under the guise of altruism, large scale tech companies can use their power and resources to access untapped data on the continent. Scant data protection laws and infrastructure ownership by western tech companies open the door for exploitation of data as a resource for-profit and a myriad of uses including predictive analytics.

One may believe that strengthening data protection laws will be a barrier to digital colonialism. However, regardless of their relative strength or weakness, data protection laws have limits. An analysis of Kenya's 2018 data protection bill, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and documented actions of largescale tech companies exemplifies how those limits create several loopholes for continued digital colonialism including, historical violations of data privacy laws; limitations of sanctions; unchecked mass concentration of data, lack of competition enforcement, uninformed consent, and limits to defined nation-state privacy laws.