Databite SeriesApril 27 2022

The Public Interest

Anne L. Washington, Deirdre Mulligan, and Jenna Burrell

Databite No. 147

“When you are working for the public you don’t have the luxury to define your audience, you have the difficult task to think about serving everyone.” —Anne Washington

What Is the Public Interest?
The role of government is distinct from the private sector. Governments serve citizens and constituents rather than customers, and they interact with advocacy organizations, unions, and other groups, not just individuals. This means they prioritize values beyond market fit and return on investment — and it means governments have an unmatched opportunity to model responsible, accountable, and accessible tech. But what exactly would it mean for that tech to be in “the public interest,” and who is included in, and excluded from, that “public”? 

About the Speakers

Jenna Burrell is the director of research at Data & Society and a professor at the School of Information at UC Berkeley. 

Anne Washington is an assistant professor of Data Policy at NYU and director of the Digital Interests Lab. 

Deirdre K. Mulligan is a professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley, faculty director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, and a co-organizer of the Algorithmic Fairness & Opacity Working Group.






Relevant Material 



Credits and Acknowledgments

Producer: Rigoberto Lara Guzmán

Editorial: Eryn Loeb

Social Media: Alessandra Erawan

Web: Chris Redwood

Post-Production: Kara Constantine  

Additional support was provided by Data & Society’s Network Engagement, and Accounting teams.