Jasmine McNealy Comments on Data Governance and the Perceived Technology Neutrality
Jasmine McNealy, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications associate director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project and Telecommunication associate professor, is featured in “UF Study to Focus on Data Governance” published in The Gainesville Sun on July 1.
McNealy received a $50,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to study internet governance and technology policy. Her research will focus on analyzing how legislation, case law and private company policies frame data usage and investigate the harms that come with the constant mass data collection that has dominated the digital age.
“My project is based on coming up with a framework for the data that’s being collected,” McNealy said. “The idea is to offer more holistic protection for individuals and communities.”
According to McNealy, “Data governance isn’t just a matter of privacy; with increasing reliance on algorithms and machine learning to vet large amounts of data, there can be serious consequences in things like college admissions or applications for jobs or loans. AI and machine learning are often used for these tasks under the assumption that they ‘will remove human subjectivity,’ but in reality these systems often perpetuate the inherent biases of humans because they create ’perfect‘ models for comparison that might not pertain to everyone.”
“Some people continue to be under the impression that technology is neutral — it’s not,” she said. “These are long-term harms that have implications for how people live their lives and we want to make sure that at the point of data collection, there are mechanisms and frameworks and regulations in place that call into question whether or not this data should be collected or used in general.”