Data and Goliath: Privacy Expert Explains the Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World

Leading security and privacy researcher Bruce Schneier appeared on Democracy Now! to  talk about the golden age of surveillance and his new book, "Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World." In it, he mentioned that companies use surveillance to manipulate prices as well as news stories and advertising. He told Amy Goodman:   “The ads you see aren’t going to be the ads someone else sees, based on your interests, but also based on what the companies believe is your income level, how good a customer you are. You’re going to see different search results than somebody else. So, depending on your political persuasion, you’ll see different advertisements. You’ll see different offers. So you might get a different credit card offer than someone else. And that might be based on your income, on proxies for your minority status. We see a lot of this very personalized advertising designed to influence you and you alone.”

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Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

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