Protect Data to Protect Marginalized Groups

Speaker: Mutale Nkonde

June 20, 2022

Protect Data to Protect Marginalized Groups

This video is part of The Four Domains of Global Platform Governance, an essay series that examines platform governance from four distinct policy angles: content, data, competition and infrastructure.

The digital economy is built on data. It is a plentiful resource that can be extracted from just about everything in our lives, from our movements and the content we consume to the information about our environment, and more personal data such as our photos and videos, right down to our heart rate. Companies are using this data to inform product and service designs to get us to spend more money or time on their websites. This data can also be used to make decisions that affect our lives, such as the type of medical or insurance coverage we need, housing, employment and policing. When fundamental freedoms are determined by AI systems, it is incredibly important to know how they function and what types of bias may exist to identify possible harms.

In her essay, Mutale Nkonde explores the potential risks of biometric data and what regulators should do to protect vulnerable citizens.

Data. What is it? Why is it important? And why am I passionate about it? Well, data — the information that we have about ourselves, about each other, about our environment — are really the new currency that we’re using to build products, make decisions and even think about who we’re going to be in the future.

Of the four domains of platform governance, I’m looking at data policy. This is because I think until we develop legal frameworks that help us mediate this, we’re going to be pretty lost.

In my essay, I discuss facial recognition and specifically how biometric data — so that’s anything to do with your body — can become the key to whether we’re arrested, whether we’re set free.

In the United States, we’re starting to develop laws, policies and practices that help us figure out who should be using this type of data, who shouldn’t be using this type of data and even if we need to use data at all.

So, if you’re interested in any of these questions, I definitely encourage you to check it out.

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The Four Domains of Global Platform Governance

In the span of 15 years, the online public sphere has been largely privatized and is now dominated by a small number of platform companies. This has allowed the interests of publicly traded companies to determine the quality of our civic discourse, the character of our digital economy and, ultimately, the integrity of our democracies. This essay series brings together a global group of scholars working in four distinct domains of the platform governance policy discourse: content, data, competition and infrastructure.