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I am curious about two things: artificial intelligence and the right to privacy in data-driven societies. Especially since we live in the context of low internet access – 28% estimated internet uptake – and the gendered digital divide, with more men accessing the internet than women in Sub-Saharan Africa. The context makes me wonder if it is worth pursuing my curiosity about artificial intelligence, algorithms, machine learning and automated decision making, or rather focus on closing the digital divide.

The current health crisis has made it clear that it has to be about both. Governments and corporations worldwide have taken unprecedented measures to contain, trace and track the spread of the coronavirus by turning to digital technologies and advanced analytics to collect, process and share data for effective responses.

Rightly so, civil society has rallied to ensure privacy norms are adhered to during these times to avoid a free-for-all by governments and the private sector on all of our data. Yet the gendered and sexuality issues around data collection and processing, including heightened concerns of surveillance and related impacts such as discrimination and bias, need more emphasis.

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