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In Poverty, Under Surveillance: Examining the Trade-Off Between Privacy and Public Assistance

DECEMBER 12, 2013 - 12:15 PM - 1:45 PM ET

Washington, DC

In Poverty, Under Surveillance

Examining the trade-off between privacy and public assistance 

Thursday, December 12th

12:15 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.   


New America Foundation

1899 L Street NW

Suite 400

Washington, DC 20036


For most Americans, news of NSA's domestic spying program was shocking. But for one group, living under government surveillance is routine--people in poverty. For families and individuals accessing the public benefits system, ceding extensive personal and financial information and submitting to unannounced home visits, fingerprinting or drug testing are the cost of receiving assistance. And for some policy makers, these intrusions still don't go far enough in regulating who receives these benefits and how they are used. 


Surveillance of poor families raises questions with universal relevance: What are the implications of having different standards of privacy based on financial status? Under what circumstances can our privacy be transacted away, and where are the limits? What responsibility do government agencies have to protect personal information? Is technology keeping our information safer, or putting it more at risk?


To unpack these questions, New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, Asset Building Program, and Breadwinners and Caregivers Program are hosting a discussion to explore the dynamics of privacy, surveillance and technology in the context of people's lived experiences with poverty and the public assistance system.



Aleta Sprague

Policy Analyst, Asset Building Program, New America Foundation 


Featured Speakers:

Brigid Schulte

Fellow, Breadwinners and Caregivers Program, New America Foundation

Staff Writer, Washington Post 

Author, Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time (forthcoming)


Virginia Eubanks

University at Albany, SUNY

Author, Digital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age


Michele Gilman

Director, Civil Advocacy Clinic, University of Baltimore


Meaghan O'Connor

Assistant Director of Programs and Partnerships, DC Public Library 



Seeta Gangadharan

Senior Research Fellow, Open Technology Institute, New America Foundation


To RSVP for the event, click here:


Join the conversation online using


      and following @AssetsNAF & @OTI


Can't make it to the event? A live webcast will be available here.