How (Not) To Regulate Big Tech (Europe's Version)
Anti-Dystopians 2.13: Conversation with Jennifer Cobbe
The Anti-Dystopians is back! This time, we’re talking about the legal landscape of tech regulation in the EU and the UK.
I spoke with Jennifer Cobbe, a senior research associate in the Computer Science Department here at Cambridge. We discussed everything that’s wrong with surveillance capitalism, what the Tesco club card has to do with the surveillance state, the incoherent approach of the EU to regulating tech, how Brexit has affected the UK’s ability to control technology corporations and how the law got us to where we are now.
You can follow Jennifer on Twitter @jennifercobbe.
As always, you can listen to it here or subscribe here (Spotify) or here (Apple Podcasts). If you like us, please rate, review and share the Anti-Dystopians to help us get new listeners. If you want to support the production of the show, you can visit here.
Further reading from the episode:
Jennifer Cobbe, Algorithmic Censorship by Social Platforms: Power and Resistance
Julie Cohen, Between Truth and Power: The Legal Constructions of Informational Capitalism
Evgeny Morozov, Capitalism’s New Clothes (a critique of Shoshana Zuboff)
Vice, Facebook Doesn’t Know What It Does With Your Data, Or Where It Goes: Leaked Document
What I’ve been reading
In more bad Tesla news, Tesla recalled 130K vehicles after finding touch screens can randomly go blank. Also, as I’ve noted before, when Tesla engines set on fire (or, say, spontaneously combust), it shuts off the electric door opening mechanism which is …. not good.
If you’ve been following the horrifying abortion news in the US, there is of course a data angle: your phone’s location data and period/fertility tracking apps may reveal if you’ve had an abortion. The Washington Post and Vice report on the way data brokers will change policing abortion from the last time it was outlawed in the US. (Also, the USPS could soon become the number one provider of abortions…. you might want to check out our previous episode about how the postal service is critical infrastructure)
By the way, the leaked Supreme Court draft ruling which would overturn Roe v Wade cites a 17th century English jurist who was literally in favor of burning witches.
In more data tracking news, CDC bought location data tracking from a Peter Thiel-backed spy firm to see if they were complying with lockdown orders. (More on Peter Thiel in our past episode here.)
Speaking of sensitive data, WSJ has revealed the gay dating app Grindr has been selling location and other personal identifying information for years.
Also I am shocked, SHOCKED to tell you that researchers have found that Amazon uses Alexa voice data to target you with ads (full article here).
Former US President Barack Obama says he’s worried about technology corporations and misinformation. That’s nice, I guess, except as Maha Atal pointed out, Obama and the tech industry have something of a love story.
Finally, Matt Mahmoudi (friend of the show) has a fantastic interview about killer robots, AI and the future of warfare
Tweet of the week
Ermm, we’re pretty sure Sian Brooke’s podcast episode on “The Feminine Meme” might have something to say about this . . .