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(monetary, substantive or legal) are still unknown, and Freedom of Information Act requests have gone unanswered (see chapter on the United Kingdom by Mollicchi et al.). This systemic and systematic privatisation of governance perpetuates the dilution of rights because it also involves a grave misalignment of incentives: private actors in the business of building technology are bound to push for technological solutions, greater data collection and access, and have ample motivation to overplay the benefits of technology in the realm of governance. Sidestepping critical reform of power and institutions When technology is presented as a scalable and efficient solution to complex social problems by governments, companies, or (more often than not) a combination of the two, there is little (if any) space to question the power structures and institutions that gave birth to these social problems in the first place. Technological solutions like contact-tracing apps, for instance, can optimise for and facilitate the functioning of existing structures of law enforcement and healthcare, but won’t necessarily acknowledge the underlying inequalities of the societies in which they will function, or the broken healthcare systems and/or discriminatory law enforcement forces that could use and wield them. This narrow approach is misguided, as the societal and institutional reality within which sociotechnical systems come to be developed and used are a crucial piece of the deployment puzzle. For instance, contact tracing apps require a minimum uptake to be effective, and yet deployments in at least some jurisdictions have failed to consider the stark digital divides (see chapter on Jordan by Sharbain and Anonymous) that could preclude effective outcomes. This approach is also actively harmful, as these technologies have a disproportionate impact on marginalised groups and minorities, due to heightened risk of surveillance, or vulnerable groups being targeted by law enforcement authorities steeped in historical and societal biases against them. For instance, Palantir’s Gotham software has been directly linked to human rights violations against immigrant families by the United States Department of Homeland

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Profile for Meatspace Press

Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

Data Justice and COVID-19: Global Perspectives  

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how social, economic, and political power is created, exerted, and extended through technology. Through c...

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