Silicon Flatirons is known for its thought leadership on technology and telecommunications policy issues. Its conferences are a meeting point for policymakers, legal and business professionals, academics, students, and entrepreneurs to debate policy and regulations while providing recommendations for advancement.

On March 12, 2021, Next Century Cities’ Executive Director, Francella Ochillo, participated in its Privacy at the Margins conference, a series of panel discussions that explored how surveillance regimes have engendered disproportionate harm to underrepresented groups. Francella’s remarks started with an explanation of why high participation in an open internet benefits all users. She followed by detailing how the digital divide – which disproportionately impacts Tribal, Black, Brown, rural, and low-income residents – is not only keeping millions of people offline but has a direct impact on an individual’s right to privacy online. 

When millions of residents do not have reliable Internet access at home, many rely on public networks at schools, libraries, and other public WiFi locations. Public networks are inherently less secure than fixed home broadband connections as they often require that users agree to a disclaimer to surrender significant privacy rights in order to get online. As long as the Internet is powered by data mining and monetization, users with the least amount of resources and digital literacy will continue to have the least amount of privacy protections.

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