Curated Story
Albert Fox Cahn
Source: Ashoka

Defending privacy in the age of surveillance

This article originally appeared on Medium

Digital technology has made surveillance ubiquitous — and cheap. In New York City alone, there were 22,000+ facial recognition searches in just the last three years, mostly targeting communities of color.

NYC-based lawyer and social entrepreneur Albert Fox Cahn founded Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) to end discriminatory surveillance and push for policies that balance new technologies with age-old rights.

In this conversation, Ashoka’s Konstanze Frischen talks to Albert about how technology impacts Constitutional rights, the grey area in which law enforcement operates, and how a coalition of citizens works on updating the law to protect privacy. Here are a few highlights.

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Ashoka insight

Sweeping new surveillance tools, such as an expanded facial recognition program, are deeply troubling. The government’s will to surveil communities of color has a centuries-old history in the U.S., dating back to Colonial times. What has changed? Digital technology has gotten very cheap very quickly — while legal frameworks struggle to keep pace.

While updating the law is part of the solution, community-centered efforts to lift up and democratize the surveillance debate are critical. Albert shares his tempered approach, why some easy steps like normalizing a culture of encryption are important and actionable, and why he and S.T.O.P. are focused on structural safeguards.