Hey gang, it’s me, Robbie. With 2023 coming to a close, I wanted to reflect on the tech advocacy movement – and everything we’ve achieved together as a team during this dynamic, impactful, paradigm-shifting rollercoaster of a year.
Earlier this year, I joined Accountable Tech’s team as Chief of Staff, coming on at a critical time for the organization and the larger tech accountability movement. Elon Musk had recently assumed control of Twitter. Meta announced their decision to reinstate Trump’s Facebook account. Laws were being introduced nationwide to ban social media platforms for kids.
At the same time, I was reminded of why I wanted to join this team. Around when I started, I saw some huge wins: President Biden calling out social media platforms for their harm to young people’s mental health, young people like Emma Lembke testifying before Congress on her experience with social media, and massive media coverage of our research showing how Google is still collecting and retaining sensitive location data for abortion clinics.
This year, I’m proud that the Accountable Tech team kept the energy going from there, notching some big wins including:
- We successfully pushed Google to change their location data policies. After a year of our advocacy calling them out for failing to live up to their promise to delete sensitive location data to protect people seeking abortion care, Google announced a policy change to better secure Location History data. This means that Google will no longer retain sensitive Location History data that right-wing states could use to prosecute people seeking – or assisting – abortion care. We took on Big Tech and won greater privacy protections from one of the largest collectors of location data in the world.
- We empowered the generation that grew up online to advocate for their digital future. After months of outreach and collaboration with youth activists across the country, Accountable Tech helped launch the first-of-its-kind youth-led coalition — Design It For Us — to advocate for safer social media and online platforms for kids, teens, and young adults. Building on the successful “Design It For Us” campaign that helped pass the California Age Appropriate Design Code (AADC), this new coalition has already garnered national attention and shaped the conversation on how digital platforms should be designed with young people in mind.
- We published a framework to provide policymakers with a roadmap to address AI’s societal risks. Alongside trusted partners AI Now Institute and Electronic Privacy Information Center, Accountable Tech published a Zero Trust AI Governance framework, setting the baseline for regulatory oversight and intervention of this rapidly-expanding new technology.
- We created a content-agnostic election integrity framework for online platforms. With our coalition partners, we published our Democracy by Design framework with a set of recommendations for online platforms rooted in their own design principles and policies — and in many cases, backed by their own research — to mitigate the threats of AI and election interference in democracies across the world. With major elections in more than 50 countries in the coming year, we’ll be pushing for social media companies to adopt the framework’s principles to counter election manipulation and enhance systemic resilience against threats to our democracies.
- We hosted our first-ever Accountable Tech Summit. Our inaugural Accountable Tech Summit brought together policymakers, experts, and activists. to build cross-cutting strategies to rein in Big Tech’s threats to democracy, protect kids online, and ensure AI works for the public good. We were joined by terrific speakers including Secretary Hillary Clinton, Senator Cory Booker, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rohit Chopra, Design It For Us coalition members, and Frances Haugen. It was an incredible convening that brought up many thought-provoking questions and conversations on how we take on Big Tech.
As I take a look back on some of our key accomplishments from this past year, I can’t help but feel proud of our team, coalition partners, and grassroots supporters. We’re making great strides in creating the digital future we all deserve, and it wouldn’t be possible without the people who power this movement.
We’re at a critical time in the tech accountability space, and I know we’ll continue building on this momentum. As we look towards 2024, make sure you join our email list to stay up-to-date on the ways you can jump in the fight for people over Big Tech.