What do databases, the cloud and a morally unjust immigration system have in common? It turns out: quite a lot. According to a recent report from mijente, “technology companies [are] playing an increasingly central role in facilitating the expansion and acceleration of arrests, detentions, and deportations.” In the course of researching Palantir, the relatively unknown software company with huge Department of Homeland Security contracts (founded by the famously right-wing Peter Thiel), mijente discovered that many roads lead back to a much more familiar company: Amazon.
Progressive Technology Project Executive Director Alice Aguilar has been interviewed by Rebekah Barber on Facing South! Check out the full interview. From the Intro: This week the nation’s attention was focused on the nefarious ways technology is deployed, as Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress about how his company has violated the privacy of its customers and allowed the vast amount of data it collects from them to be used for ethically and legally questionable political propaganda efforts.
To many of us, the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal sounds like old news: we have known that Facebook is collecting a dangerously large amount of our personal information for years. However, there is something different with this scandal and it may change the way the US movement thinks about the corporate Internet and our strategies for change. Since the rise of centralized Internet services like Google and Facebook there have emerged two main arguments against them.
Last Spring, the Progressive Technology Project’s executive director Alice Aguilar joined 50 other movement technologists at the Highlander Center to directly confront the intersection of technology and movement politics. In a historic gathering of movement technologists (about 90 percent people of color, 50 percent women), the challenges of corporate technology domination over our progressive movements was discussed. One result of the gathering was a thoughtfully written petition we are asking all movement technologists to sign.
For organizers, it’s fundamental: no decisions about us, without us. But the opposite is happening in technology that local and movement organizing groups use today, and the challenges we are about to face will increase exponentially with the incoming Trump administration. Bias is rampant online. The way to fix it is to insure the people controlling access to the internet and who are writing the apps, algorithms and software that govern bigger chunks of our lives share at least some of our values and vision for racial equity.