“Data are the new oil”. Technical advances in computing and a pervasive social Internet make vast datasets on human behavior – as well as the tools to process them – available for cheap. Trouble is, democratic institutions don’t look like they are ready to tackle the big data challenge and the many thorny issues it brings about (privacy, anyone?). They risk playing a distant second fiddle to large hi-tech corporates. Last Friday I shared some musings along these lines at the Future Data conference, held in Florence by initiative of the Italian local authorities’ statistics society (thanks for inviting me!). I was busy with the RENA Summer School in Matera, so I had to send a video. It’s in Italian, but I plan to do more work in English around this.