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primer | 10.30.14

Data & Civil Rights: Housing Primer

Alex Rosenblat, Kate Wikelius, danah boyd, Seeta Peña Gangadharan, Corrine Yu

Data has always played an important role in housing policies, practices, and financing. Housing advocates worry that new sources of data are being used to extend longstanding discriminatory practices, particularly as it affects those who have access to credit for home ownership as well as the ways in which the rental market is unfolding. Open data practices, while potentially shedding light on housing inequities, are currently more theoretical than actionable. Far too little is known about the ways in which data analytics and other data-related practices may expand or relieve inequities in housing.

This document is a workshop primer from Data & Civil Rights: Why “Big Data” is a Civil Rights Issue.


In this op-ed, Data & Society fellow Seeta Peña Gangadharan argues that the “rise of commercial data profiling is exacerbating existing inequities in society and could turn de facto discrimination into a high-tech enterprise.” She urges us to “respond to this digital discrimination by making civil rights a core driver of data-powered innovations and getting companies to share best practices in detecting and avoiding discriminatory outcomes.”


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