Tech & Rights

Tech & Rights Explained

We make sure companies and governments use technologies to improve our lives, rather than to monitor and manipulate us.

by LibertiesEU

Powerful corporations are pushing technologies that are changing our lives. It’s not just social media, apps and internet-linked devices from companies like Facebook and Amazon. It’s also surveillance technology from shady corporations. We work to protect free speech & privacy in the digital world, and to use tech for good, not as a tool to manipulate, spy & discriminate.

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Privacy

Our right to privacy gives us liberty to think and say what we want, spend time on things and with people that matter to us and discuss issues we find interesting free from the judgment of others. Almost everything we do leaves some kind of trace on the internet. From cameras in train stations, to the apps on our phones, to the things we buy. Unfortunately, corporations and governments are thirsty for this private information. So they can work out how to make us buy their products or vote for their policies.

Surveillance

Developments in technology allow corporations and governments to monitor almost everything about us all the time. From wearables that measure our heart rate to apps we use to control our home heating, to the databases that store our internet history and our emails, to CCTV that uses facial recognition. When we know we’re being watched we self-censor and don’t feel free to do, say and think what we want. This invasion of our privacy is really bad for democracy, where we need to feel free to discuss and debate ideas and opinions. But we’re also worried about how corporations and governments feed this information to algorithms that then use it to make predictions about us.

Artificial Intelligence

Governments and companies are increasingly using algorithms to make decisions about us because it’s much cheaper than paying a person. It’s often referred to as artificial intelligence. But an algorithm is just a complicated equation that makes a decision by checking how information fits certain criteria. Algorithms are good at performing certain tasks, like modeling climate change or playing chess. But companies and governments are using them to make decisions that rely on an understanding of things like culture, art, morality and human psychology. Like to decide if we’d be good at a particular job, if we’re likely to commit a crime, or if something we said was comedy or hate speech.

Free speech

Free speech helps democracy work properly because it allows the public to debate different ideas and opinions so they can form their own views. Technology offers us new ways to communicate our ideas and opinions. Unfortunately, some people spread information that is illegal in some way, for example videos that show acts of violence, child pornography, or copyrighted materials like films and songs.

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When governments want to stop these damaging materials from spreading on the internet they often make rules that don’t solve the problem, and that also end up strangling free speech. For example, by allowing corporations to use algorithms, which are notoriously unreliable, to decide whether articles and videos posted on YouTube are legal or not.

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