TechEquity Wrapped: Our Advocacy in 2023

December 13, 2023

Did Spotify put you in Burlington? Berkeley? Pittsburgh? Wherever your music taste is, we’re grateful you located some of your advocacy efforts at TechEquity. 

The past year has been rough for many of us with mass layoffs, and fears of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. Yet, we have remained persistent in championing public policy and research that brings us closer to our vision for change that ensures tech’s evolution benefits everyone. Before we sign off for the holiday season, we’re excited to share with you a year filled with research, legislation, and general efforts to address inequities both within the tech industry and those that result from tech products. 

Let us continue building community with one another and revisit some of TechEquity’s greatest hits in 2023! Because moving together gets us further than going alone, so thanks for jamming out with us.

Sound Town: Sacramento, USA  

We kicked off 2023 with two major bills—the Protect Laid Off Workers Act (AB 1356) and Ending Caste Discrimination in California (SB 403). Both bills were crucial in strengthening worker protections in California.

For someone like David Jones-Krause, a member of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA, AB 1356 was an opportunity to share their story on the disparities many contract workers continue to face especially during layoffs. David shared this with California legislators: 

“I’m still unemployed today, and every time I speak out against the inequities TVCs face, I worry that I prolong my unemployment, my financial uncertainty. But I have the privilege of no debt and a spouse with a stable job. Those blessings would be squandered if I didn’t speak out on behalf of those for whom the risks of being outspoken are too great to come here today.”

David Jones-Krause, contract worker and member of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA

Then we heard from Tanuja Gupta, a former tech worker who faced retaliation for blowing the whistle on caste discrimination at Google. She has been at the forefront of advocating for caste discrimination protections for workers in California through SB 403 and beyond. It is thanks to people like David, Tanuja, and you that we were able to show our representatives why we need bold policy change in California. 

While California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed both bills, we’re still very proud of what we were able to accomplish and are committed to keeping the drumbeat for these issues going. We look forward to hearing more stories and testimonies from you, to ensure that your voices are at the center of discussion.

Top Genre: Research

From automated home buying to rent to own contracts, many of the racist housing practices of the past have started to filter their way into the Proptech space. That’s why we highlighted ways in which Proptech companies can become actors that help mitigate these harms, rather than worsen them. Check out our recommendations here!

In collaboration with the National Fair Housing Alliance, TechEquity also continued our research in the housing space to explore the current state of privacy, technology, and data in housing—and how we can implement privacy-preserving technologies and regulations to center the right to housing moving forward.

Our research uncovered three major shifts that are immediately required to ensure that our civil rights and privacy are protected as modern technologies emerge and existing technologies grow:

  • Shift responsibility from the individual to companies and regulators
  • Strengthen the review of these tools prior to their use on the public
  • Develop an intersectional approach to design and regulate tools and models 

Top Song: “Addressing AI”

“Addressing AI” was at the top of many of our playlists for 2023. The AI letter, the release of Chat GPT, and the AI hype generally got people talking, and for good reason. AI is increasingly impacting our everyday lives—from workplace surveillance to algorithms being used to approve (or deny) necessities like housing and healthcare. 

That’s why labor, civil rights, economic equity, and privacy advocates are weighing in; we joined them in writing letters to Congress and the White House. We wrote a letter to President Biden and Vice President Harris urging them to actualize the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Human Rights and joined a coalition of civil society and advocacy groups—including the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Center on Race and Digital Justice—urging lawmakers to center the well-being and rights of the American people as it considers risks and opportunities of AI technology. We also signed onto a letter alongside workers and civil society groups—such as Alphabet Workers Union-CWA, Data & Society, and the Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR)—urging Congress to consider how workers, across sectors, are already impacted by new technologies and respond to their demands during the second Bipartisan AI Forum.

Then, on October 30th, 2023, President Biden issued the Executive Order for Safe, Secure and Trustworthy AI. The order established new standards for AI—including guidance for safety and security, protections for Americans’ privacy, and guidelines to protect renters from discrimination and workers from surveillance, bias, and job displacement.

Our founder and CEO Catherine Bracy had this to say:

“We are encouraged by President Biden’s Executive Order for Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy AI, especially the focus on increased protections for workers and renters. We applaud the advocates and civil society leaders who pushed to have the people who are most affected by AI at the center of the conversation on how to regulate it.”

This includes the people who give AI its intelligence.

This is ultimately just the beginning of our work to make AI a tool to enable human flourishing rather than undermine it. Watch for the first album drop in 2024.

Top Artist: You!

2024 will be our biggest year yet!  As we mentioned earlier, moving together does, in fact, get us further than going alone, so be sure to sign up now to be the first to get updates on how you can get involved in advocating for worker and renter rights in the new year! 

Check out our 2024-2026 strategic plan for our future lineup of genres, hits, and collaborations.