Scored Society

What is it?

"A scored society is a disturbed society"

We are increasingly moving towards a "scored" society, each citizen is assigned a score by governments, agencies, companies and employers. These scores are calculated on the basis of lots of data and determine whether you can use a certain service and at what price. The algorithm behind this data is completely inscrutable, and wrong data can lead to wrong decisions. Behind every decision formula are moral or cultural norms, and equally reflect biases. To what extent your sex work (current or past) may play a role in this data is also a mystery. But there are already signs among sex workers that something in database A may well end up in database B, in a tangle of data flows. Think of the police, customs, housing, child protection. And how do your data get out of a system (e.g. you stop working) if no authority can unravel the starting point of the tangle?

Computers often "measure" a correlation: The simultaneous occurrence of two or more things. If this happens often enough, the computer assumes that there is a relationship between two facts. That possible connection is called causality, and is considered important and included in the calculation. Whether that relationship is really there, and how that relationship was caused, does not interest the computer.

What can it mean for a sex worker?

Registering sex work is so scary because we also very often do correlation see but no causality. Just as people say that in the year 2000 prostitution was legalized (read: brothel ban lifted, because sex work itself was already legal) and that therefore many women from Eastern European countries came to work there. Two things happened, namely the raising of the brothel ban and the expansion of the EU as a result of which many more people were allowed to live and work in other countries, but these were not related.

As long as the stigma is still high, and sex workers can't even open a business bank account properly, or get insurance, all this data collection drive works against us.

We are moving toward a system of permanent surveillance. The government then only needs to keep an eye on people who evade digital surveillance. Therefore, a scored society is a disturbed society.

What can you do?

It's hard to resist on your own. But together you're stronger. Joining an organization that advocates for your digital rights can help a bit (Bits of Freedom). Or join an organization that advocates for the rights of sex workers (see Social map for organizations).

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Computer says woman: how a Rotterdam algorithm discriminated against young, single mothers - Vers Beton

article (pdf) 'Thousands of victims of sexual exploitation': fact or frame?