Google Address Harmful Data Practices Through Racial Equity Audit

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    Google Address Harmful Data Practices Through Racial Equity Audit

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    Google created an in-depth profile about you to make discriminating against you easier. They keep track of your searches, the websites you visit, the videos you watch, the items you browse and buy, and where you are located. Their spy network spans the internet. Spying is central to their business model. Surveillance allows Google to sell ads and keep you on their platforms. The information they collect on you, or data, can reveal your race, gender, age, and socioeconomic status. In other words, your data is a snitch.

    Google doesn’t check for how their systems or algorithms discriminate against Black users. They recently built a dermatology app without making sure it would work on darker skin. Dr. Latanya Sweeney found that Google’s ad algorithm falsely suggested “Black-identifying names” had criminal records. Dr. Safiya Umoja Noble discovered that Google’s search algorithm connected the term “black girl” with pornography. If Google doesn’t check their algorithms for bias, the systems will continue to rely on harmful and untrue racial stereotypes. Their latest project, Federated Learning of Cohorts, will put users into buckets for advertising and can use the same stereotypes Dr. Sweeney and Dr. Noble warned them about. This means their algorithms can hide housing or job opportunities because they think Black people won’t engage or target you with predatory messages because they think you’re Black. 

    These discriminatory practices are unacceptable. Google must examine its products for bias to protect Black communities. An audit would help them discover discrimination and work on remedial and preventative solutions. Join us in calling on Google to conduct a racial equity audit. 

    Below is the petition we will send to Google.

    Here is the Petition:
    Dear Mr. Pichai: 

    Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoCs, has the potential to encode discrimination in Google’s advertising algorithms. Grouping people by common interests can allow advertisers to target or avoid cohorts using racist stereotypes about what Black people are interested in. In the past, Google did not consider the danger of targeting criminal history ads based on whether or not the name was “Black-identifying.” We are concerned that a similar pattern of discrimination will be uncovered after FLoCs are implemented.

    However, Google can begin to avoid this harm and other discriminatory practices that proliferate at Google’s many companies by conducting an independent racial equity audit. Such an investigation will provide Google with specific areas where it must eliminate discrimination in its products and workplaces.

    Google named “creat[ing] products and programs that help Black users” and “mak[ing] technology more accessible and equitable” in its commitment to racial equity. In order to truly achieve these goals, Google must combat racism and discrimination in its products by immediately conducting a racial equity audit.