What strategies, structures and institutions are needed at national and international levels to confront Big Tech and advance digital justice?
A flood of recent analysis discusses the abuse of personal information by internet giants such as Facebook and Google. Some of these articles zero in on the basic business models of Facebook, and occasionally Google, as inherently deceptive and unethical. But I have yet to see a proposal for any type of regulation that seems proportional to the social problem created by these new enterprises.
The problem isn’t that this psychographic data were exploited at a massive scale. It’s that platforms like Facebook enable people’s data to be used in ways that take power away from voters and give it to data-analyzing campaigners. In my view, this kills democracy.
Writing recently in Medium, Salvatore Iaconesi — a designer, engineer and founder of Art is Open Source and Human Ecosystems — offers an extremely important critique of the blockchain and other data-driven network technologies. While recognizing that these systems have enormous potential for “radical innovation and transformation,” he astutely warns against their dangerous psychological and cultural effects.
How can technology lead to more participation in democratic processes? Who should own and control city data? Can cities embrace a model that socializes data and encourages new forms of cooperativism and democratic innovation?
Big data refers to the collection of the ‘digital traces’ that we all leave as a result of our online activity. Essentially everything we do online is recorded, from the websites we browse and the terms we type into Google, to the purchases we make and the posts that we ‘like’ on Facebook or ‘retweet’ on Twitter.
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By some accounts the world’s information is doubling every two years. This impressive if unprovable fact has got many people wondering: what to do with it?