A Healthy Digital Public Sphere

In the spring of 2022, we partnered with the editors of the Yale Journal of Law and Technology to commission a collection of papers examining what it means to have a healthy or vibrant digital public sphere. To get a diversity of perspectives on this topic, we sought out contributions from legal scholars as well as scholars in the field of Science and Technology Studies. The essays in this group examine the various legal and technological mechanisms that structure our experience of the digital public sphere – some of which enable our freedoms and connect communities, while others constrain us by impinging on our privacy, objectifying us as amalgamations of data, or causing invidious discrimination. Jasmine E. McNealy writes about the dangers of sonic surveillance and collection of sonic data to identify people and predict our behavior, and argues for conditions of audibility that respect individual and community autonomy. Mike Ananny contends that algorithms are not merely technical processes but sociotechnical systems that manifest social relations, and that we must learn to “see like an algorithmic error” to appreciate the consequences of technological mistakes and design better systems. Anupam Chander explores the global effects of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and argues that this section’s baseline norms have helped shape global discourse. Chand Rajendra-Nicolucci and Ethan Zuckerman envision a new system of “forgetful advertising” as a digital public infrastructure and alternative to the surveillant advertising that dominates the digital ad ecosystem. 

Sonic Privacy

Jasmine McNealy 

Exploring the conditions of audibility that are essential to sonic privacy.

Seeing Like an Algorithmic Error: What are Algorithmic Mistakes, Why Do They Matter, How Might They Be Public Problems?

Mike Ananny

Arguing that “seeing like an algorithmic error” means engaging the social, economic, cultural and political forces that make technology mistakes and public problems. 

Section 230 and the International Law of Facebook

Anupam Chander

Arguing that CDA Section 230, despite its origins in one country, has served as a foundational norm for global internet speech.

Forgetful Advertising: Imagining a More Responsible Digital Ad System

Chand Rajendra-Nicolucci and Ethan Zuckerman

Presenting a model of "forgetful advertising" as an alternative for organizations whose values conflict with surveillant advertising.