Instacart, the Gig Economy, and Doubling Down on Algorithmic Bias

Instacart, the Gig Economy, and Doubling Down on Algorithmic Bias

Gig economy firms like Instacart, and most tech companies, fail to recognize implicit bias. So their algorithms often discriminate against people of color. With thirty-one percent of Hispanic adults and 27 percent of African American adults earning money through the gig economy, compared to 21 percent of White adults; this is certainly a racial justice issue. Doubling Down on Algorithmic Bias and the Implications for Workers of Color   Here at Greenlining, we spend a lot of time thinking about the gig economy—ride services like Uber and Lyft, food delivery services like Caviar and DoorDash, home rental services like AirBNB, and the grocery delivery company Instacart. Most of us don’t…
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That Health Tracker and Your Internet Privacy

That Health Tracker and Your Internet Privacy

Over the past few years, there’s been a surge in the popularity of health tracker devices and applications that keep tabs on health information such as your heart rate, the number of steps you take a day, how much you weigh, how much sleep you get, and even your daily water intake. In 2017, 24 percent of consumers reported using a wearable fitness tracker, and 24 percent reported using a health tracking app (this doesn’t mean that 48 percent of consumers used either a fitness tracker or an app—undoubtedly some consumers used both). In 2018, the six most popular fitness tracking apps had a total of 71.3 million active users.…
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What White People Miss

What White People Miss

If you’ve been following our blog for the last little while, you’ll have noticed that Greenlining turned 25 this year, and that we’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on our history and accomplishments. I’ve been thinking about Greenlining as an organization, and I’ve also been thinking about my work at Greenlining, and what it’s been like to be a white person who works at a people of color-led organization. The short answer is, it’s been fantastic. Not just the work—which I love—but the opportunities for my own growth and to confront my own privilege.  During all this introspection, I realized that I need to call myself (and other white…
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What the Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Means for You (Hint: It’s Not Good)

What the Sprint/T-Mobile Merger Means for You (Hint: It’s Not Good)

As you may already be aware, on Saturday, Sprint and T-Mobile announced their plans to merge—something the two companies have been planning to do for quite a few years now. I’ve been expecting a big communications merger for a while now—my money was on a Comcast/T-Mobile merger, but a Sprint/T-Mobile merger is no big surprise—and this one is huge. By “huge,” I mean really huge—the Sprint/T-Mobile merger would make the new company the second largest wireless company in the country. Additionally, it would reduce the number of nationwide wireless carriers from four to three. That’s a huge cause for concern. You have to evaluate every merger on its own merits,…
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Why the Most Important Telecommunications Work I Did This Week Was Participating in A Trumpcare Protest

Why the Most Important Telecommunications Work I Did This Week Was Participating in A Trumpcare Protest

I just went to Washington to lobby on telecommunications issues and ended up helping to (I hope!) save America from Trumpcare. Three times a year, the telecommunications team flies from California to Washington D.C. to visit the Federal Communications Commission.  I serve on the FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations regarding consumer issues.  Three weeks ago, I would have written that the CAC “advocates on behalf of consumers.”  However, since then, FCC Chair Ajit Pai added six new members to the committee, all of whom are industry hacks or work for free-market think tanks.  I was a bit surprised by this, but I shouldn’t have been—after all, Chairman Pai…
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An Open Letter to My Fellow Greenliners

An Open Letter to My Fellow Greenliners

I’d like to share my thoughts about the election. It’s 9:00 a.m. on election day 2016, so clearly I’m writing this before any results are in.  This blog post isn’t about the candidates or control of the Senate or what happens next.  It’s about you, my coworkers at Greenlining—the most incredible group of folks that I’ve ever worked with. My perspective on the world was – like everyone – formed by my family, my faith, my education, and my experiences.  Those factors shaped me into a person who is passionate about justice and equity, angry enough to want to do something about it and too stubborn to give up. As…
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Equality, Equity, and the Tech Industry

Equality, Equity, and the Tech Industry

The folks over at WIRED magazine have devoted an entire issue to articles about race and gender, justice, and inclusion, and discuss their reasons for doing so in an article entitled “The Battle for Equality Is a Wired Issue.” The tech industry has a pretty terrible record on diversity, so it’s always nice to see someone draw attention to the problem. However, I wish WIRED had used a different title for their article, because diversity isn’t an equality issue—it’s an equity issue. “Equality” and “equity” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have significantly different meanings. Equality refers to treating everyone the same, while equity refers to treating everyone with fairness…
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Charles Benton 1931-2015

Charles Benton 1931-2015

We lost a huge advocate for consumers’ telecommunications rights this week.  Charles Benton ran the Benton Foundation, a foundation established to do “good works in communication.”  During his time at the Foundation, Mr. Benton created an organization that works tirelessly to ensure that media and telecommunications services enhance democracy and serve the public interest.  It’s safe to say that Mr. Benton served a critical role in advancing the deployment of broadband to unserved and underserved communities. There’s no way I can do Charles Benton’s work justice in something as short as a blog post.  You can read all about him here at the Benton Foundation’s website.


The FCC’s Net Neutrality Decision Delivers Greenlining Fifteen Minutes of Internet Fame.

The FCC’s Net Neutrality Decision Delivers Greenlining Fifteen Minutes of Internet Fame.

            Today, the Federal Communications Commission finally published its ruling on net neutrality.  Under those new rules, your Internet provider can’t block or slow Internet traffic, and can’t give preferential treatment to certain kinds of Internet traffic—what we call “paid prioritization.”  The fight over net neutrality has been going on for a good ten years, although the origins of the debate reach back to at least the 1940s. I’m not going to spend an entire blog post explaining the 300-plus page ruling (well, I probably will, but I’ve got to get through the ruling first), but I did want to point out one fun fact:  This awesome sentence comes from…
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If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention—Which Is How Comcast Likes It.

If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention—Which Is How Comcast Likes It.

When I first started in my field and people asked me what I did for a living, I’d tell them, “I practice telecommunications and antitrust law on behalf of consumers.” I quickly learned, however, that if you need to make someone’s eyes glaze over in a matter of nanoseconds, one really effective method is to tell them that you practice telecommunications and antitrust law on behalf of consumers. So now when people ask me what I do for a living, I say, “I fight Comcast and Verizon and AT&T all day long.” People universally respond, “That’s awesome! I hate Comcast (or AT&T, or Verizon)!” That is an example of one…
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