A Look Into “Information Equity” and “Digital Redlining, Access and Privacy”

I read two articles for this assignment, one titled Information Equity and the other titled Digital Redlining, Access and Privacy.

St. Paul residents planning for renovation of the Victoria Theater.
Thai Phan-Quang, photographer.

https://open.lib.umn.edu/designequity/chapter/chapter-6-information-equity/

To be honest, I never really heard the term “information equity” before reading this article so going, I did not know what to expect. From just the wording, I was able to get a brief understanding but what to know more about what it really entails. The Information Equity article made sure you became aware of your rights as a citizen which many people lack. For example, I have no idea what my rights as an Egyptian is and that is because it is so suppressed in our education systems and our culture that you grow up having absolutely no knowledge of such a matter. We all know information is important because it is embedded in everything we do. Yet, we never stop and think is this information or not. I truly think it is because we have been so accustomed to it being embedded in our daily life especially with the increase in technology that you basically disregard it. It makes you wonder, what else am I ignoring because I’m just taking it for granted? which brings us to another important concept. Do all people have the same access to information, especially in Egypt? That is a definite no. We’re a developing country but even if we’re developed, I do not think a single country can say that their society has equitable information access and use. (Lievrouw and Farb, 2003, pp. 504–505) What I truly found eye-opening was the part where they stated: “If people in a society do not have access to information they need to advocate for their interests, that society is not really a democracy” and I could have never probably linked them together. With that quote, Egypt is definitely not a democracy. You always need to advocate your interest in order to get access to information in which most cases, you will never get it. The entities involved in whether or not you receive such access to information are government agencies and officials but also private corporations. They put too much focus on keeping information away from people and not what they can give to people. Moreover, two new topics that I was introduced to were: personal agency and social capital. Personal agency is “if you will be able to live the life you envision for yourself” and I think because all the information that I need to assess how my life looks like in the next, say, 10 years is already reliable and accessible to me, I can paint a faint image. For starters, I do know that I want to start a career immediately, have a family, own my own house and travel around the world. I know what each matter entails but will I be able to achieve the resources needed to carry out such plans is one that even information cannot provide me with. The second concept is social capital which is basically “the benefit people derive from having relationships with others” also known as a “wasta” in Egypt. Your connections make or break you in our Egyptian society and having people back you up in times of need is essential to your succession.

Digital Redlining, Access and Privacy, an article by Chris Gilliard focuses on how the information available to us may be limited. The previous article gave a brief insight on fair access and use but this one focuses on how certain topics on the web are not found. The author gave an example of Nina who could not find any information on revenge porn today, not because it’s not there but because it has been filtered so she cannot see it. Most of the resources in Egypt are filtered with a number of websites being banned completely but we would never have buzzers that would alert someone that you were using an illegal website like abroad. For example, my cousin lives in Canterbury, Kent and she needed to watch a film for university, she couldn’t search for it online because her access to the internet has been filtered to remove copyrighted content since it is illegal. However, I could find that exact same movie in Egypt and it would appear as my first choice in Google. When I sent her the link, it would work so it is not that the entire site is banned, it is that they limit your information to access such a website in the first place. Gilliard explained how redlining came to be with the National Housing Act in 1934. I immediately thought, how can a concept that is already rooted in racism, still operate blatantly in our world. Indeed, if you have to advocate for your information, it is not a democracy. This divide allows the racism many face today. If I can judge which skin color gets which kind of information or privileges or based on location, I can do much more when technology advances. Digital redlining helps in reinforcing existing beliefs about classes, races and religions that it greatly divides the world into categories and decides who gets what.

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