The Devastating Consequences of Being Poor in the Digital Age

Mary Madden discussing the privacy and security violations that occur in our increasingly digitized society. This is increasingly true for marginalized and vulnerable populations.

The poor experience these two extremes — hypervisibility and invisibility — while often lacking the agency or resources to challenge unfair outcomes.

Madden draws on work that focused on privacy perceptions in the Post-Snowden Era, as well as how these experiences and resources vary by socioeconomic status, race, & ethnicity.

The story of income inequality and differential surveillance practices in America is also deeply intertwined with the history of racial inequalities. In addition to understanding the differing concerns of economically marginalized groups, it’s critical to understand how different racial and ethnic groups experience privacy. 

Madden closes with some important questions about the data ecosystem for all groups, especially as we seek to integrate marginalized and low-income communities. Specifically, their research that suggests that low-income Americans, specifically “foreign-born Hispanic adults, are disproportionately reliant on mobile devices as their primary source of internet access.”

This has me thinking about how data collection and algorithms unfairly impact access and use to the Internet in and across these groups.

SOURCE: The New York Times

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