An excellent editorial by Alistair Croll on the civil rights implications of Big Data contains a number of points I hadn't considered before, as well as great analysis of the way that the Big Data situation arrived:
“Personalization” is another word for discrimination. We’re not discriminating if we tailor things to you based on what we know about you — right? That’s just better service.
In one case, American Express used purchase history to adjust credit limits based on where a customer shopped, despite his excellent credit limit:
Johnson says his jaw dropped when he read one of the reasons American Express gave for lowering his credit limit: “Other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express.”
We’re seeing the start of this slippery slope everywhere from tailored credit-card limits like this one to car insurance based on driver profiles. In this regard, big data is a civil rights issue, but it’s one that society in general is ill-equipped to deal with.
We’re great at using taste to predict things about people. OKcupid’s 2010 blog post “The Real Stuff White People Like” showed just how easily we can use information to guess at race. It’s a real eye-opener (and the guys who wrote it didn’t include everything they learned — some of it was a bit too controversial). They simply looked at the words one group used which others didn’t often use. The result was a list of “trigger” words for a particular race or gender.
Big data is our generation’s civil rights issue, and we don’t know it
Back in 2017, EFF, ACLU and ACLU of Massachusetts sued the US government on behalf of 11 travelers whose devices had been subjected to warrantless, suspicionless searches by Customs and Border Protection at the US border.
EFF has just posted a job listing for a development director, seeking someone to "take charge of EFF's eleven-person Development Team in their efforts to raise over $13 million each year," starting late 2019 or early 2020.
ORG -- the UK Open Rights Group (disclosure: I am a co-founder and volunteers on its advisory board) is hiring a Data and Democracy Project Officer: "responsible for delivering our work on preserving democratic integrity in the digital age. This role has two main areas of focus: 1) electronic voting and 2) the use of […]
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Between all of our apps, streaming devices, Bluetooth speakers, and energy-sucking decorations, paying for utilities each month can be…brutal. In fact, the average household spends roughly $70 a month on the water bill alone. That number might not seem terribly significant, but when you add it up, that’s $840 a year — a pretty significant […]