neveragain.tech [Or at least not any further]

neveragain.tech [Or at least not any further]

Write a list of things you would never do. Because it is possible that in the next year, you will do them. —Sarah Kendzior [1]

We, the undersigned, are employees of tech organizations and companies based in the United States. We are engineers, designers, business executives, and others whose jobs include managing or processing data about people. We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies. We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable.

We have educated ourselves on the history of threats like these, and on the roles that technology and technologists played in carrying them out. We see how IBM collaborated to digitize and streamline the Holocaust, contributing to the deaths of six million Jews and millions of others. We recall the internment of Japanese Americans during the Second World War. We recognize that mass deportations precipitated the very atrocity the word genocide was created to describe: the murder of 1.5 million Armenians in Turkey. We acknowledge that genocides are not merely a relic of the distant past—among others, Tutsi Rwandans and Bosnian Muslims have been victims in our lifetimes.

Today we stand together to say: not on our watch, and never again.

I signed up but FYI, the databases we are pledging to not build, already exist.

The US Census Bureau collects information on race, religion and national origin.

The Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2012 (131st Edition) Section 1. Population confirms the Census Bureau has this data:

Population tables are grouped by category as follows:

  • Ancestry, Language Spoken At Home
  • Elderly, Racial And Hispanic Origin Population Profiles
  • Estimates And Projections By Age, Sex, Race/Ethnicity
  • Estimates And Projections–States, Metropolitan Areas, Cities
  • Households, Families, Group Quarters
  • Marital status And Living Arrangements
  • Migration
  • National Estimates And Projections
  • Native And Foreign-Born Populations
  • Religion

To be fair, the privacy principles of the Census Bureau state:

Respectful Treatment of Respondents: Are our efforts reasonable and did we treat you with respect?

  • We promise to ensure that any collection of sensitive information from children and other sensitive populations does not violate federal protections for research participants and is done only when it benefits the public good.

Disclosure: I like the US Census Bureau. Left to their own devices, I don’t have any reasonable fear of their mis-using the data in question.

But that’s the question isn’t it? Will the US Census Bureau be left to its own policies and traditions?

I view the various “proposed data collection policies” of the incoming administrations as intentional distractions. While everyone is focused on Trump’s Theater of the Absurd, appointments and policies at the US Census Bureau, may achieve the same ends.

Sign the pledge yes, but use FOIA requests, personal contacts with Census staff, etc., to keep track of the use of dangerous data at the Census Bureau and elsewhere.


Instructions for adding your name to the pledge are found at: https://github.com/neveragaindottech/neveragaindottech.github.io/.

Assume Census Bureau staff are committed to their privacy and appropriate use policies. A friendly approach will be far more productive than a confrontational or suspicious one. Let’s work with them to maintain their agency’s long history of data security.

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