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“Today, closed, proprietary software can put you in prison or even on death row.” --Rebecca Wexler
“Big data’s broad ethical consequences strain the familiar conceptual and infrastructural resources of science and technology ethics.” -- Council for Big Data, Ethics and Society
We hear a lot about algorithms today. We know that they affect our shopping preferences, our Google search results, and our social media streams. They are also profoundly reshaping our justice and legal systems, largely through a set of proprietary software platforms that impact sentencing guidelines and parole decisions. Join us as filmmaker, lawyer, and activist Rebecca Wexler unpacks the relationships between data, technology, and criminal justice. Her current scholarship focuses on trade secrets in new data-driven criminal justice technologies. In an Op-Ed in The New York Times, Wexler recently wrote, “The criminal justice system is becoming automated. At every stage — from policing and investigations to bail, evidence, sentencing and parole — computer systems play a role.” She continued, “Technological advancement is, in theory, a welcome development. But in practice, aspects of automation are making the justice system less fair.” Come for a robust discussion of the ethics of proprietary data and the role of algorithms in our daily lives.
Rebecca Wexler, Lawyer at The Legal Aid Society and The Data & Society Institute
Rebecca Wexler, a fellow at The Legal Aid Society and lawyer in residence at The Data & Society Institute, works on data, technology, and criminal justice. Her current scholarship focuses on trade secrets in new data-driven criminal justice technologies. While at Data & Society, she worked for The Legal Aid Society defending criminal cases that involved computer-derived evidence, including Stingray surveillance and cell site location tracking. She also initiated partnerships between Legal Aid, GovLab, and the Vera Institute of Justice to analyze Legal Aid’s internal data, representing 230,000 criminal cases per year. Before law school, Rebecca worked as a documentary filmmaker. She holds a JD from Yale Law School, an MPhil from Cambridge University, and a BA from Harvard College. She is a member of the New York bar and a law clerk to the Honorable Pierre N. Leval of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.