Why Transparency Won’t Save Us

My new piece, “Why Transparency Won’t Save Us” @ Centre for International Governance Innovation talks about how transparency around data has become a form of neoliberal responsibilisation:

Too often, transparency ends up a form of free labour, where we are burdened with dis- or misinformation but deprived of the capacity for meaningful corrective action. What results is a form of neoliberal “responsibilization,” in which the public becomes burdened with duties it cannot possibly fulfill: to read every terms of service, understand every complex case of algorithmic harm, fact-check every piece of news. This shift in responsibility makes it, implicitly, our fault for lacking technological literacy or caring enough about privacy — never mind that vast amounts of money and resources are poured into obfuscating how our data is collected and used. This is the crux of the problem. Transparency is often valued as the great equalizer, a way to turn the tables on those in power and to correct the harms of technological systems. But sometimes what you need to correct abuses of power isn’t more information — it’s a redistribution of power.