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Tuesday, 13th January 2015

Exploring Data and Civil Rights

Source: Data & Society Research Institute

From Overview:

On October 30, 2014, the Data & Society Research Institute, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and New America’s Open Technology Institute co-hosted an event entitled “Data & Civil Rights.” The aim of the event was to convene civil rights leaders, technologists, and key representatives from industry and government in and across the sectors of Education, Consumer Finance, Health, Criminal Justice, Housing, and Employment to identify and examine how the “big data” phenomenon affects civil rights issues. The conversations ranged from the consideration of how technology perpetuates historical discrimination to the possibilities of using data collection to serve civil rights goals, particularly by measuring inequalities or disparities.

The convening paid considerable attention to the historical dynamics of civil rights and the technical realities of the “big data” phenomenon. The event had three main narratives: (1) the roots and contemporary state of civil rights issues, which centered primarily on discrimination on the basis of protected classes, and issues of privacy; (2) the inner workings of the technology and how and when it can create discriminatory outcomes and impacts, particularly through algorithmic decision-making; and (3) the next steps for these discussions, especially in the areas of policy-making, government actions, technology development, generating social change, industry innovation, and new research.

+ Executive Summary (PDF; 142 KB)

+ Press Release, with primers on criminal justice, education, employment, finance, health and housing


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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »



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