Exposing Police Misconduct Data in the Era of Digital Privacy Concerns

Speaker: Cynthia Conti-Cook
Date recorded: Jun 19, 2019
Non-governmental groups are creating police misconduct databases to build stronger mechanisms of transparency and accountability and to influence laws, policies, and norms.

This past year, 2018-2019 Data & Society Fellow Cynthia Conti-Cook tackled an aspect of the criminal justice system lacking data: police misconduct. Her talk explores how this data gap came to be through police union claims to the Right to be Forgotten. This raises important lessons about how government actors exploit privacy rhetoric to cover up rights violations.

Cynthia Conti-Cook is a staff attorney at the New York City’s Legal Aid Society, Special Litigation Unit, where she oversees the Cop Accountability Project and Database, leads impact litigation and law reform projects on issues involving policing, data collection, risk assessment instruments, and the criminal justice system generally. She has presented as a panelist and trainer at many national, New York state, and New York City venues on topics of police misconduct, technology in the criminal justice system, and risk assessment instruments.

Why Now is the Time for Racial Literacy in Tech

Speaker: Jessie Daniels
Date recorded: Jun 12, 2019
2018-19 Data & Society Fellow Jessie Daniels offers strategies for racial literacy in tech grounded in intellectual understanding, emotional intelligence, and a commitment to take action.

2018-19 Data & Society Fellow Jessie Daniels offers strategies for racial literacy in tech grounded in intellectual understanding, emotional intelligence, and a commitment to take action. In this podcast, Daniels describes how the biggest barrier to racial literacy in tech is “thinking that race doesn’t matter in tech.” She argues that “without racial literacy in tech, without a specific and conscious effort to address race, we will certainly be recreating a high-tech Jim Crow: a segregated, divided, unequal future, sped-up, spread out, and automated through algorithms, AI, and machine learning.”

Jessie Daniels, PhD is a Professor at Hunter College (Sociology) and at The Graduate Center, CUNY (Africana Studies, Critical Social Psychology, and Sociology). She earned her PhD from the University of Texas-Austin and held a Charles Phelps Taft postdoctoral fellowship at University of Cincinnati. Her main area of interest is in race and digital media technologies; she is an internationally recognized expert on Internet manifestations of racism. Daniels is the author or editor of five books and has bylines at The New York Times, DAME, The Establishment, Entropy, and a regular column at Huffington Post.

Her recent paper, “Advancing Racial Literacy in Tech,” co-authored with 2018-19 Fellow Mutale Nkonde and 2017-18 Fellow Darakhshan Mir, can be found at http://www.racialliteracy.tech.

Cryptoparty as Rent Party

Speaker: Jasmine E. McNealy
Date recorded: Jun 19, 2019
Cryptoparties empower communities in the age of harmful surveillance technologies.

2018-19 Data & Society Fellow Jasmine E. McNealy compares Cryptoparties to the goals and aspirations of the famous rent parties of the Harlem Renaissance. Both represent communities filling in the gaps in infrastructure to support each other. While the rent party helped pay rent through nights of celebration, jazz, and revelry, McNealy’s research shows that the Cryptoparty strives for a similar freedom through educating community members on how to safely navigate harmful surveillance technologies.

Jasmine E. McNealy is an assistant professor of telecommunication at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. She studies information, communication, and technology with a view toward influencing law and policy. Her research focuses on privacy, online media, communities, and culture.

Dark Patterns in Accessibility Tech

Speaker: Chancey Fleet
Date recorded: Jun 5, 2019
The state of non-visual access to everyday digital interactions is a trouble map that deserves more exploration by technologists working in the public interest.

Chancey Fleet, a Brooklyn-based accessibility advocate, coordinates technology education programs at the New York Public Library’s Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library. Chancey was recognized as a 2017 “Library Journal” Mover and Shaker. She writes and presents to disability rights groups, policy-makers, and professionals about the intersections of disability and technology. During her fellowship at Data & Society, she worked to advance public understanding of and explore best practices for visual interpreter services as well as other technologies for accessibility whose implications resonate with the broader global conversations about digital equity, data ethics, and privacy. She proudly serves as the Vice President of the National Federation of the Blind of New York.

Ghost Work

Speaker: Mary L Gray
Date recorded: May 8, 2019
“Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass,” is a necessary and revelatory exposé of the invisible human workforce that powers the web—and that foreshadows the true future of work.

Anthropologist Mary L. Gray shares her latest book, “Ghost Work: How to Stop Silicon Valley from Building a New Global Underclass,” a collaboration with computer scientist Siddharth Suri. “Ghost Work” is a necessary and revelatory exposé of the invisible human workforce that powers the web—and that foreshadows the true future of work.

Hidden beneath the surface of the web, lost in our wrong-headed debates about AI, a new menace is looming. This book unveils how services delivered by companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Uber can only function smoothly thanks to the judgment and experience of a vast, invisible human labor force. These people doing “ghost work” make the internet seem smart. They perform high-tech piecework: flagging X-rated content, proofreading, designing engine parts, and much more. An estimated 8 percent of Americans have worked at least once in this “ghost economy,” and that number is growing. They usually earn less than legal minimums for traditional work, they have no health benefits, and they can be fired at any time for any reason, or none.

There are no labor laws to govern this kind of work, and these latter-day assembly lines draw in—and all too often overwork and underpay—a surprisingly diverse range of workers: harried young mothers, professionals forced into early retirement, recent grads who can’t get a toehold on the traditional employment ladder, and minorities shut out of the jobs they want. Gray and Suri also show how ghost workers, employers, and society at large can ensure that this new kind of work creates opportunity—rather than misery—for those who do it.

Amara.org co-founder Dean Jansen joins Mary in a conversation moderated by Data & Society’s Director of Research Sareeta Amrute.

Surveillance Capitalism and Democracy

Speaker: Shoshana Zuboff
Date recorded: Feb 13, 2019
Shoshana Zuboff discusses her latest book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.

Shoshana Zuboff–Surveillance capitalism arrived on the scene with democracy already on the ropes, its early life sheltered and nourished by neoliberalism’s claims to freedom that set it at a distance from the lives of people. Surveillance capitalists quickly learned to exploit the gathering momentum aimed at hollowing out democracy’s meaning and muscle. Despite the democratic promise of its rhetoric and capabilities, it contributed to a new Gilded Age of extreme wealth inequality, as well as to once-unimaginable new forms of economic exclusivity and new sources of social inequality that separate “the tuners” from “the tuned.”

Among the many insults to democracy and democratic institutions imposed by this coup des gens, Zuboff counts the unauthorized expropriation of private human experience; the hijack of the division of learning in society; the structural independence from people; the top-down imposition of the hive collective; the rise of instrumentarian power and radical indifference that together sustain its extractive logic; the construction, ownership, and operation of the means of behavior modification that is Big Other; the abrogation of the natural right to the future tense and the natural right to sanctuary; the degradation of the self-determining individual as the crucible of democratic life; and the insistence on psychic numbing as the answer to its illegitimate quid pro quo.

This event is hosted by Data & Society’s AI on the Ground Research Lead Madeleine Clare Elish.

Memes to Movements

Speaker: An Xiao Mina
Date recorded: Jan 9, 2019
Technologist and digital media scholar An Xiao Mina presents a global exploration of internet memes as agents of pop culture, politics, protest, and propaganda on- and offline.

An Xiao Mina presents a global exploration of internet memes as agents of pop culture, politics, protest, and propaganda on- and offline. Based on her new book, Memes to Movements: How the World’s Most Viral Media is Changing Social Protest and Power (Beacon Press, January 2019), Mina uses social media-driven movements to unpack the mechanics of memes and how they operate to reinforce, amplify, and shape today’s politics.

Crucially, Mina reveals how, in parts of the world where public dissent is downright dangerous, memes can belie contentious political opinions that would incur drastic consequences if expressed outright. She finds that the “silly” stuff of meme culture—the photo remixes, the selfies, the YouTube songs, and the pun-tastic hashtags—are fundamentally intertwined with how we find and affirm one another, direct attention to human rights and social justice issues, build narratives, and make culture.

Joining her in conversation is Data & Society Founder and President danah boyd.

Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary

Speaker: Louis Hyman
Date recorded: Dec 5, 2018
Why has work become insecure? Data & Society welcomes historian Louis Hyman for a talk on the surprising origins of the “gig economy.”

Historian Louis Hyman on the surprising origins of the “gig economy.” Hyman is joined in conversation by Data & Society’s Labor Engagement Lead Aiha Nguyen and Researcher Alex Rosenblat.

Hyman’s latest book “Temp: How American Work, American Business, and the American Dream Became Temporary” tracks the transformation of an ethos that favored long-term investment in work (and workers) to one promoting short-term returns. A series of deliberate decisions preceded the digital revolution, setting off the collapse of the postwar institutions that insulated us from volatility including big unions, big corporations, and powerful regulators.

Through the experiences of those on the inside–consultants and executives, temps and office workers, line workers and migrant laborers–Temp shows how the American Dream was unmade.

Redefining Benefits for Future Workers

Speaker: Carmen Rojas, Rachel Schneider, Tamara K. Nopper, and Aiha Nguyen
Date recorded: Oct 3, 2018
Carmen Rojas, Rachel Schneider, and Tamara K. Nopper in conversation with Aiha Nguyen about the intersection of fintech and credit and benefit systems for low-wage workers.

Data & Society welcomes The Workers Lab Co-Founder and CEO Carmen Rojas; Entrepreneur and Author Rachel Schneider; and Professor, Researcher, and Activist Tamara K. Nopper to discuss the intersection of fintech and credit and benefit systems for low-wage workers with Data & Society Labor Engagement Lead Aiha Nguyen.

Rojas and Schneider both focus on the financial challenges facing precarious low-wage workers–including “gig” workers–and how these workers might need different benefits than have traditionally been provided, like retirement. Nopper offers insight into the world of credit scoring and data, analyzing how fintech “innovation” intersects with race, class, and gender wealth gaps. Nguyen is an organizer who works to bridge research and practice, expanding understanding of technological systems’ impact on work. Together, they discuss questions such as:

How will current and projected income volatility in the gig economy change available workplace benefits?
What role could fintech play on the future of work? Can workers be a part of shaping that future?
What data will low-income working families need to share in order to have access to capital–and will it be worth it?

Dr. Carmen Rojas is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Workers Lab, an organization that invests in experiments and innovation to build power for working people in the 21st century. For more than 20 years, Carmen has worked with foundations, financial institutions, and non-profits to improve the lives of working people across the United States. Carmen currently sits on the boards of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Neighborhood Funders Group, General Service Foundation, JOLT, Certification Associates, and on the Advisory Boards of Fund Good Jobs and Floodgate Academy. Carmen holds a Ph.D. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and was a Fulbright Scholar in 2007.

Rachel Schneider is the Omidyar Network Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program and co-author of The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty. Rachel’s research has been featured in the nation’s top publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and many others. Though she began her career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch & Co., Rachel credits her commitment to the potential for innovative finance to solve major social problems from her days as a VISTA Volunteer (now AmeriCorps). She holds a J.D./M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. from UC Berkeley.

Tamara K. Nopper has a PhD in Sociology and her teaching and research focuses on the intersection of economic, racial, and gender inequality, with a particular emphasis on entrepreneurship, banking, globalization, urban development, and money and surveillance. Her publications have examined immigrant entrepreneurship, minority business development, the globalization of ethnic banking, and Asian American communities. Her current work looks at Korean immigrant entrepreneurship and post-Civil Rights era minority politics.

Freedom in Moderation: Platforms, Press, and the Public

Speaker: Mike Ananny, Tarleton Gillespie, Kate Klonick
Date recorded: Sep 27, 2018
Mike Ananny and Tarleton Gillespie in conversation with Kate Klonick about the underlying decisions that impact the public’s access to media systems and internet platforms.

Data & Society welcomes Mike Ananny and Tarleton Gillespie for a conversation with Kate Klonick about the underlying decisions that impact the public’s access to media systems and internet platforms.

In “Networked Press Freedom: Creating Infrastructures for a Public Right to Hear,” Mike Ananny offers a new way to think about freedom of the press in a time when media systems are in fundamental flux. Seeing press freedom as essential for democratic self-governance, Ananny explores what publics need, what kind of free press they should demand, and how today’s press freedom emerges from intertwined collections of humans and machines. His book proposes what robust, self-governing publics need to demand of technologists and journalists alike.

Tarleton Gillespie’s “Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media” investigates how social media platforms police what we post online—and the way these decisions shape public discourse, cultural production, and the fabric of society. Gillespie provides an overview of current social media practices and explains the underlying rationales for how, when, and why “content moderators” censor or promote user-posted content. The book then flips the way we think about moderation, to argue that content moderation is not ancillary to what platforms do, it is essential, definitional, constitutional. And given that, the very fact of moderation should change how we understand what platforms are.

Mike Ananny is an associate professor of communication and journalism in the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California (USC), a faculty affiliate with USC’s Science, Technology, and Society initiative, and a 2018-19 Berggruen Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

Tarleton Gillespie is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New England and an affiliated associate professor at Cornell University. He co-founded the blog Culture Digitally. His previous book is the award-winning “Wired Shut: Copyright and the Shape of Digital Culture.”

Kate Klonick is an assistant professor at law at St. John’s University Law School and an affiliate at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, Data & Society, and New America. Her work on networked technologies’ effect on the areas of social norm enforcement, torts, property, intellectual property, artificial intelligence, robotics, freedom of expression, and governance has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, Maryland Law Review, New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, The Guardian and numerous other publications.