Digital Privacy Is a Class Issue

Saw this linked at end of the privacy article that Howard shared. Basically outlines how analytics is used to create customized advertising specifically targeting the poor.

“If we are to reclaim our agency over our online lives, and reclaim the potential of the digital age, we need to break the business model of surveillance capitalism. We need laws and policies that enshrine respect for the intrinsic value of personal data, rather than allow it to be treated as a resource that can be exploited for profit. Similar to the way rules now govern how doctors or lawyers must treat information given to them in a professional capacity, there should be stronger standards for companies that hold personal data gleaned from web use.”


YES! Threat modeling MUST include the material impacts of the loss of privacy. Who can afford iPhones, the phone that does minimal data collection? Who relies on on predictive algorithms for the provision of social services? Who is most targeted by the new surveillance capabilities of the police?

This article reminds me of an older piece by Virginia Eubanks called [ The Digital Poorhouse]. We will get into this stuff in depth the week we talk about algorithms and prediction.

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I was reading an article from Sarah Igo where she talks about how the ‘inviolate nature’ of middle class family life is historically the basis for privacy as it’s discussed, and it follows that extending the same right to privacy to all would be tantamount to aligning capital with the rights and interests of the lower/working classes.

Some conversations about privacy are also framed around protecting the reputation of professional class (especially white men) and other instances concepts of what is ‘private behavior’ or ‘impropriety’ are used to erase queer folks from public view. The conversation about privacy is def full of contradictions!

*Small edits made 251 p.m.

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Contradictions, yes! Also, shifting narratives! We can change public perceptions about the meaning of privacy, because those definitions have already changed over time.

Jessamyn wrote a lot about this topic. She’s great. Here’s a bit more info on her and her work.

this article just popped up too:


checking in for a meeting of the Jessamyn fan club