The Commerce Department investigates how big data harms marginalized groups

Hammer and scales of justice depicted on a laptop.

picture: Job creation 51 (Clash)

the The Ministry of Commerce announced Wednesday that Initiate an investigation into the widespread data collection and surveillance of companies A great danger to marginalized groups.

“Everyone in America deserves strong privacy protections,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in a news release. “This is particularly important for marginalized communities, where the consequences of an invasion of privacy can be felt most starkly.”

The NTIA, a wing of the Department of Commerce, issued a request for comment, inviting experts and the public to share testimony about how data collection, sharing and use can exacerbate structural inequality. NTIA says it will release a report on its findings at an unspecified date.

Critics of the tech industry have warned that it is harmful The effects of the data economy A particular threat to people of color, the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized or disenfranchised groups.

“Collecting and sharing data risks a new digital discrimination that replicates previous forms of profiling, re-identification, and exclusion,” Davidson said. “We are concerned about how these practices can impede economic and social opportunities, from housing and jobs to health and safety.”

The last decade of tech coverage gives us an abundance of miserable examples. For example, after the Supreme Court struck down abortion protections, a Gizmodo investigation found that as many as 32 data brokers Sale of pregnant listsis the data that law enforcement officials often have within their purchase rights. In 2021 a right-wing Catholic blog used advertising data collected by the advertising industry for Outside the priest as a gay man. The priest resigned soon after.

Facebook, everyone’s favorite privacy pariah, offers many stories along these lines to choose from. A social networking site The worst moment came when the Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Facebook Violation of the Fair Housing Act For an advertising system that promotes discrimination. Facebook advertising clients were able to use demographic factors such as race, religion, gender, and disability to hide housing and job ads from certain people. FB settlement with the Ministry of Justice It included not only a monetary fine but design changes to correct the problem.

While Meta, the parent company of Facebook, says it has introduced new technology to address problems created by existing technology, research shows time and again that problems with data discrimination remain. A recent study shows that Facebook determines race, gender, and more Demographic factors in the images advertisers use In their advertisements and company regulations Use this information to determine who sees your ad. Blacks were less likely to see job ads if the ad contained a picture of a white person, for example.

As the NTIA points out, the free floating personal information circulating online has made identity theft an ever-present threat, one that can be particularly burdensome for low-income people and families because of the time and financial cost involved in addressing it. Archaeology.

The new investigation is in line with President Biden’s hard line on technology policy. lately The Wall Street JournalPresident CTo meet and pass legislation to control big tech. “Like many Americans, I worry about how some in the industry are collecting, sharing, and exploiting most of our personal data, deepening extremism and polarization in our country, tilting the playing field in our economy, violating the civil rights of women and minorities, and even putting our children at risk,” Biden said. The Department of Commerce cited the article in its press release announcing the preliminary investigation.

The new investigation follows three hearings with experts exploring the tech industry’s links to issues of privacy, fairness and civil rights.

NTIA says it will include the comments in a new report on the data’s impact on inequality and discrimination. The department will provide guidance on how to use resources to better address these issues, and make suggestions for new policies.

Leave a Comment