Wolfie Christl

Internet, Technology & Society

Digital Culture, Community Media
Big Data, Digital Tracking, Surveillance, Privacy
Open Source, Open Knowledge, Creative Commons
Digital Literacy, Education, Serious Games

Wolfie Christl is a technologist, researcher, writer, educator, and digital rights activist based in Vienna, Austria. Communication engineer by profession, he studied (but did not complete degrees in) computer science, sociology, arts and media studies. He has been interested in digital culture, open source, community media, and the socio-cultural impact of information technology since the late 1990's. Until 2006 he was a part of Public Netbase, a digital art platform, non-profit ISP, and somewhat of an early hackerspace in Vienna. His most recent work is focused on surveillance, privacy, and the personal data ecosystem in today's digital age.

In 2017, he published Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life, a comprehensive report on “how companies collect, combine, analyze, trade, and use personal data on billions”, and How Companies Use Personal Data Against People, a working paper on “automated disadvantage, personalized persuasion, and the societal ramifications of the commercial use of personal information”. His 2016 book Networks of Control is, according to the “International Association of Privacy Professionals”, a “slow-burning horror film”, and, according to Paul Nemitz, Director Fundamental Rights at the Directorate-General Justice of the European Commission, “a must-read for anyone who is interested in today's data-driven world”.

He has contributed to donottrack, an interactive web documentary series about digital tracking (The Atlantic, Forbes, Guardian), works as a trainer for employee privacy, and writes for newspapers such as the German FAZ. In 2013, he co-created Data Dealer, an award-winning online game on personal data and surveillance, which aims to raise awareness about privacy in a new and fun way. Data Dealer has received outstanding media coverage and substantial feedback from young people, teachers, media educators and the general public all over the world. It won numerous prizes like the e-virtouses Serious Games Award 2013 (France) and the Games for Change Award 2013 (USA).

Christl and his projects have been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, and many other media outlets around the world. He has presented his research in the European Parliament and has held many talks, lectures, and workshops at various conferences all over Europe and in the US, including at universities, Austrian and German Federal Ministries, TEDxVienna, re:publica (Berlin) and the Chaos Communication Congress (Hamburg).

Selected Publications, Interviews, Video

#data4sale (2016)

Talk at a conference by the Norwegian Consumer Council in Oslo

YouTube preview
TEDxVienna (2012)

How to gamify personal data (business)

YouTube preview
Report (2017)

Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life. How Companies Collect, Combine, Analyze, Trade, and Use Personal Data on Billions.
» Web Publication
» Research Report

Book (2016)

Networks of Control. A Report on Corporate Surveillance, Digital Tracking, Big Data & Privacy. Together with Sarah Spiekermann.
» Networks of Control


Financial Times (11/2019)
AdAge (8/2019)
New York Times (4/2019)
Ad Exchanger (4/2019)
Financial Times (1/2019)
India Today (6/2018)
Süddeutsche Zeitung (5/2018)
Washington Post (4/2018)
Wired (3/2018)
Guardian (3/2018)
Boing Boing (1/2018)
Slate (8/2017)
New York Times (2013)
Forbes (2013)
New Yorker (2013)
Fast Company (2013)


Inventures (2012)

Talks, Presentations, Panels

Hamburg (DE)

University of Hamburg

Guest lecture at the "Taming the Machines" public lecture series of the Ethics in Information Technology research group at the University of Hamburg, Germany.
» Public lecture series | Announcement | Video

Bochum (DE)

SecHuman Summer School

Lecture/workshop at the "3rd SecHuman Summer School – Brave New World: Security for Humans in Cyberspace", Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany
» Overview | Program

Darmstadt (DE)

Surveillance, Privacy, and You / Eurocrypt

Talk on "Corporate surveillance of everyday life – How companies use personal data against people" at the conference "SPY – Surveillance, Privacy, and You", part of Eurocrypt 2019.
» Overview | Program

Tilburg (NL)

TILTing Perspectives conference

Presentation at the "Workshop on the Political Economy of Web Tracking" at Tilburg University.
» Program

Berlin (DE)

The German government‘s Data Ethics Commission

Keynote at the conference of the German federal government‘s Data Ethics Commission on "Personalized manipulation, automated inequality, quantified distrust? Some remarks on current techno-social developments"
» Program | Video

Stanford (US)

Stanford University

Workshop on "Technology, Digital Commerce, and the Self" with Peter Galison and others, supported by Carnegie, at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford

Berlin (DE)

netzpolitik.org conference

Talk "Digitale Profile über Milliarden: Überwachungskapitalismus 2018 und wie weiter" at the "Das ist Netzpolitik" conference at Volksbühne Berlin
» netzpolitik.org | Abstract | Video

Vienna (AT)

Technopolitics working group

Lecture "Living in Surveillance Capitalism"
» technopolitics.info

Brussels (BE)

Privacy Camp 2017

Talk and panel "Instant Big Data Targeting: Programmatic Ad Tech & Beyond" at the civil society conference held the day before the start of the CPDP
» privacycamp.eu | Video

Hamburg (DE)

CCC Congress #33c3

Talk "Corporate Surveillance, Digital Tracking, Big Data & Privacy" at the Chaos Communications Congress 2016
» fahrplan.events.ccc.de | Abstract | Video

Oslo (NO)

Norwegian Consumer Council #data4sale

Talk at the conference on the "consequences of the commercial use of consumer data" by the Norwegian Consumer Council
» forbrukerradet.no Video

Vienna (AT)

Privacy and Sustainable Computing Lab

Keynote and book presentation "Networks of Control" at the opening event of the Privacy and Sustainable Computing Lab at Vienna University of Economics and Business
» privacylab.at

Vienna (AT)

FROG 2015 "inter/play”

Talk & Panel at the Games Conference of BuPP & Austrian Federal Ministry of Family and Youth
» frogvienna.at

Vienna (AT)

Internet Governance Forum Austria

Workshop "Digital rights in the context of corporate surveillance" at the IGF Austria, hosted by Bundeskanzleramt, ISPA & nic.at
» igf-austria.at

Brussels (BE)

Panel on Privacy & Consumer Rights

Panel Discussion with Renate Nikolay (Head of Cabinet of EU Commissioner Věra Jourová), Josef Weidenholzer (MEP and Chairman of the Intergroup Digital Agenda in the EU Parliament, Daniela Zimmer (Vienna Chamber of Labour)
» akeuropa.eu

Prague (CZ)

DisConference 2015

Keynote at “DisCo 2015: From analog education to digital education”
» disconference.eu

Hamburg (DE)

DIVSI Convention 2015

Workshop at Your Net – DIVSI Convention 2015
» divsi.de/yournet

Warsaw (PL)

Media meets Literacy

Talk at the Media and Information Literacy Conference organized by Evens Foundation, Belgium
» mediameetsliteracy.eu

Leipzig (DE)

University of Leipzig

Talk+discussion, organized by AK Gesellschaftskritik
» Announcement

Berlin (DE)

Kongress der Möglichkeiten

Talk at #hate10 in Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien
» hate10.com

Berlin (DE)

re:publica 2015

Talk about my research at #rp15, one of the largest conferences about digital culture: Thursday May 7, 10am
» Corporate Surveillance in the Age of Digital Tracking, Big Data & IoT

Graz (AT)

ICT@University Conference

Talk at the University of Graz
» ict.uni-graz.at/de/programm

Vienna (AT)

SUBOTRON academy

Panel discussion "Subversive Games"
» subotron.com

Vienna (AT)

Privacy Day 2015

Talk at the conference of the Austrian Society for Privacy and Data Protection ARGE Daten
» argedaten.at

Vienna (AT)

brut wien theatre

Panel discussion about surveillance and social sorting, related to the performance Anonymous P.
» brut-wien.at

Wien (AT)


Talk "Durchleuchtet, analysiert und einsortiert?" at W23/que[e]r
» que[e]r

Berlin (DE)

Cyber Security Challenge Conf

Keynote at the conference of the IT Security Association Germany, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy & more.
» cybersecuritychallenge.de/konferenz

Brussels (BE)

European Parliament

Presentation of my research about Digital Tracking & Corporate Surveillance in the European Parliament, at the invitation of MEP's » Joe Weidenholzer and » Michel Reimon » Invitation

Utrecht (NL)

SIDN Meeting

Talk at the conference of the .nl domain registry
» sidn.nl

Fürstenfeld (AT)

ICT Security Conference 2014

Talk at the conference of “Cyber Security Austria” and “Abwehramt” - one of two Austrian defense intelligence agencies.
» seminar.bundesheer.at

Eibelstadt (DE)

main.IT 2014

Keynote at the conference about IT + media by iWelt AG, focused on “Data & Security”
» iwelt.de

Vienna (AT)

Paraflows Symposion

Talk at the conference “Intimacy / Plug-in - Exploit - Care”, part of Paraflows, Festival für Digital Art & Cultures
» paraflows.at | » Abstract

Offenbach (DE)

Webinale Visions

Talk “Digital Technocracy via Surveillance & Big Data?” at the conference about “Datability”
» http://webinale.de | » Programmm & Abstracts

Bozen (Italy)

EURAC science cafè

Big data panel at the European Academy Bozen.
» sciencecafe.eurac.edu

Vienna (AT)

IMAGINE14 Conference

Talk at the conference about “Future Information and Communication Technology” by OCG and the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology
» imagine-ikt.at

Berlin (DE)

re:publica 2014

Talk at Europe's biggest Internet conference
» re-publica.de | » Abstract

Vienna (AT)

Conference “Civil Rights, Networks, Economy & Politics”

Talk “Recruitainment und Quantified Work: The future of digital surveillance at work” and panel with Herta Däubler-Gmelin (former German Minister of Justice), Joe Weidenholzer (Member of EU Parliament), Walter Peissl (Austrian Academy of Science), Gerhard Kunnert (Austrian Federal Chancellery)
» arbeiterkammer.at

Vienna (AT)

Faceless Conference - Vienna Art Week

Presentation/Lecture in the context of the “Faceless II Exhibition”, Quartier 21 / Museumsquartier.
» viennaartweek.at | » facelessexhibition.net

Vienna (AT)

ICIC 2013 Conference

Talk “Personal Data in the Digital Age. Big Brother on Steroids?” at the “International Conference for the Information Community”.
» icic.eu | » Abstract

Vienna (AT)

How to Create a Critical Public

Panel with Regula Stämpfli (CH), Sonja Ablinger (Member of Austrian Parliament), Felix Stalder (Prof. Digital Culture, ZHDK Zürich)
» Alternative Media Academy

Zürich (CH)

rePlayce:thecity Conference

[canceled due to illness] Panel ”Surveillance and Control”, Lecture “From Panopticon to Retargeting: Surveillance and Gamification in the Age of Big Data”
» Program | » Book of Abstracts

Vienna (AT)

Austrian Media Days

Big Data Panel with Rudi Klausnitzer, Friedrich Stickler, Anneliese Rohrer
» medientage.at | » Abstract

Prague (AT)

DisCo 2013 Conference

Keynote “Digital Literacy Education on par with Contemporary Digital Culture” at the Conference on “New Technologies and Media Literacy Education”.
» disconference.eu | » Abstract


Games for Change Conference

Talk “A Fun Game about Personal Data and Digital Privacy” at the Games for Change Festival 2013, ”Catalyzing Social Impact Through Digital Games”.
» gamesforchange.org/festival2013

Vienna (AT)

R.I.P. Privacy? Tech Natives Debate

Panel with Max Schrems (Europe vs. Facebook), Anne Roth (Tactical Technology Collective), Tom Spiegel (iProspect Austria).

Offenbach (DE)

Bended Realities Festival

Playing for Real, lecture/presentation at the “Festival for Playful Digital Culture”.
» Programme

Vienna (AT)

TEDxVienna 2012

Talk “How to gamify personal data (business)” at TEDxVienna conference.
» tedxvienna.at | » ted.com | » Video of the talk

Wien (AT)

DNP12 Daten.Netz.Politik

Talk at the conference about privacy, net politics and free networks
» dnp12.unwatched.org | » Abstract | » Youtube

Vienna (AT)

Internet & Gobalization

Panel discussion

Sofia (BG)

net user II Conference

Talk “Sustainable Web Technologies for Non Profit Organizations”, Interspace Media Art Center.
» netuser.cc (archive.org)

Weimar (DE)

D.A.S.H. Meeting

Talk “Collaboration Web” at the meeting on “Open Source and Open Publishing for Grassroots Activism”
» eu.d-a-s-h.org

Wien (AT)

Free Speech Camp

Panel “Public Campaigning & Independent Media” at the Radio FRO conference - part of Ars Electronic Festival
» fro.at/freespeechcamp


Guest Lecture

24.06.2014. Institute for Theatre, Film and Media Studies (University of Vienna). “Big Data: Media Culture in Transition”
» Rámon Reichert


19.+20.5.2014: Workshop about privacy and chances & risks of social media
» gpa-djp.at

Guest Lecture

16.09.2013. Degree Program for Game Engineering (University of Applied Sciences Technikum, Vienna)
» technikum-wien.at

Renoise Audio.

2004. Workshop Using sample tracking software for music production
» workshop.t0.or.at

Mozilla Mail

2003. Workshop. Understanding Mozilla mail & email basics.
» workshop.t0.or.at

Wiki Workshop

2003. Workshop. Using Wikis for collaborative knowledge management.
» workshop.t0.or.at

Advanced Internet User

2003. Talk about the history, technology & structure of the Internet.
» workshop.t0.or.at

Introducing Zope

2002. Several workshops. Creating dynamic websites based on the open source web app server Zope.
» workshop.t0.or.at


2002. Workshop. Creating dynamic websites based on the open source CMS phpWebsite.
» workshop.t0.or.at

Web Publishing

2001. Talk about web publishing in the fields of art, culture & alternative media.
» workshop.t0.or.at