Informatics Seminar Series
Fall Quarter 2020

Friday, October 23, 2020

“Black Narratives, Black Data, Surveillance and the Fear Economy”

Tawana Petty
Fellow, Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford PACS
Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society

Project Green Light, facial recognition, Operation Legend, Operation Relentless Pursuit. Detroit city government has perfected the premise of law and order, but has failed to increase the quality of life of tens of thousands of residents. After years of community resistance and two false arrests due to misidentification using face recognition technology, law enforcement and city government continue to double down. What drives a city occupied by over 500,00 Black residents to continue to pursue technologies and practices that have been proven racially biased? What is preventing Detroit from joining cities across the country who have implemented strong ordinances or bans? What is standing in the way of opportunities to be visionary and to divest from mass surveillance and militarized policing? How did we get here and what will it take to end the conflation between surveillance and safety? And what could an alternative vision for the city and society look like?

Tawana Petty is a mother, social justice organizer, youth advocate, poet and author. She is intricately involved in water rights advocacy, data and digital privacy rights education and racial justice and equity work. She is director of the Data Justice Program at Detroit Community Technology Project, co-leads Our Data Bodies, is a convening member of the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, an anti-racism facilitator with Detroit Equity Action Lab, and a Digital Civil Society Lab fellow at Stanford PACS.

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