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Newsletter
July 2022
     
 

Tech Accountability Project in Europe

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The Signals Network received a grant from Luminate Strategic Initiatives to expand our Tech Accountability Project (TAP) into Europe, beginning this month. This grant enables us to increase support for tech whistleblowers across the continent through our core EPIC approach: empowering workers, protecting whistleblowers who have shared public interest information with the press, coordinating media investigations, and advocating for change of policies regarding tech accountability and whistleblower protections. We will be adapting the Tech Worker Handbook’s legal guide to outline specific legal policies and issues in Germany and the United Kingdom to empower tech workers who are considering speaking out. Additionally, we are expanding our partnerships and collaboration with European lawyers, media partners, and civil society organizations to further our impact.

Our advocacy work in Europe has already supported amendments to protect content moderators in the DSA and in the Online Safety Bill in the UK. We are excited for the opportunity to continue pushing for tech accountability and worker protection globally through our TAP Europe program.

 

 
 
 Whistleblower Protection Fund – The Bay & Paul Foundation
 

The Signals Network is starting to develop a Whistleblower Protection Fund, supported by a grant from The Bay & Paul foundation. This grant allows us to formalize our system of support for whistleblowers who come to us. The Whistleblower Protection Fund will be a core component of our Whistleblower Protection Program, and will become an essential tool to providing more whistleblowers with holistic aid. Our service for selected whistleblowers include: legal support/representation, media relations management, information security, advocacy, psychological support, and safe-housing.

This program is lead by our new Legal Director, Jennifer Gibson, who has increased the number of whistleblowers we can support with attorney-client privilege, as well as increased our network of lawyers and therapists with appropriate stress disorder expertise who can offer support to whistleblowers

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IMPACT: The Digital Safety Act

The Signals Network successfully worked with civil society partners and EU lawmakers to include mandatory reporting on the “training and support” for “persons in charge of content moderation” in the EU’s new Digital Services Act (DSA). The DSA is the world’s first comprehensive legislation to regulate the harms of digital platforms and increase accountability of Big Tech companies. TSN’s efforts to include oversight of content moderation began when Facebook whistleblower Daniel Motaung spoke out about the conditions he and his colleagues faced working as content moderators for a Facebook contractor, Sama, in Kenya. After his revelations, TSN worked with Daniel to understand what policies would improve conditions for content moderators. TSN then worked as part of the People vs Big Tech Coalition and with EU lawmakers to include language that would implement Daniel’s suggestions, including transparency of content moderators.

This is an example of TSN’s EPIC approach for whistleblowers, where C stands for “Change”, and TSN works with whistleblowers to affect policies that will create change based on their revelations. While the DSA’s requirements likely won’t impact moderators in Kenya, it will apply to the thousands of moderators in the EU and force companies to be more accountable for their content moderation practices. TSN continues to advocate for content moderation transparency globally in partnership with Daniel.

    Pushing for tech accountability after Roe v. Wade overturned

The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion is a violation of human rights and individual liberties. As a result, a woman’s privacy is left to the whim of state legislators, many of whom might be ready to track down women who seek an abortion or who desperately seek help online. Now that the very life and liberty of women is threatened, we need to be ever more vigilant about holding the unregulated Big Tech industry to account. If state governments request private information from companies that track abortion-related data, this data can be weaponized against women to block or criminalize those seeking reproductive healthcare.

The Signals Network has stressed the importance of the Tech Worker Handbook, written by former tech whistleblowers and support groups, which includes information on legal, media, security and privacy issues. If you are a tech worker concerned about your company’s use or sharing of private data, TSN’s Tech Accountability Project can help you think through your options for holding the company to account. We highly encourage tech workers to use these resources to empower themselves with information relevant to protecting rights, in order to make informed decisions on how to address wrongdoing and seek accountability within powerful corporations

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