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Debugger Podcast: Defending Democracy (and Us!) From Big Tech

The seventh season of the Ways & Means podcast was something different. We handed the show over to our friends at the Debugger podcast. The series, “Defending Democracy (and Us!) from Big Tech,” was hosted by award-winning journalist Bob Sullivan.

The series explored the power of tech companies and what governments can do to hold them accountable.

For example, consider Google’s advertising business. Google is just trying to serve you the right ad at the right time, right? Well, Johnny Ryan is the head of a group in Ireland that’s a bit like the ACLU in the U.S. He says Google’s business is a lot more than that.

“What it boils down to is that hundreds of billions of times a day, what everyone is watching, reading and listening to and where they are in the real world is being broadcast out to thousands of companies,” Ryan says.

Johnny Ryan argues that we should view Google’s advertising business as a data breach, a big one. “Not only is it the biggest data breach of all time, every day, it’s the biggest data breach we’ve ever had. And it’s repeated daily. The scale is astounding,”

The series explored what’s been tried, and what might yet be tried to rein in Big Tech’s huge power over us.

Episode 1 Too Big to Sue

Episode Page | Transcript


Episode 2 What Hasn’t Worked

Episode Page | Transcript


Episode 3: Begged and Borrowed

Episode Page | Transcript to come


Series Guests

  • Marty Abrams, Information Accountability Foundation
  • Jolynn Dellinger, Duke Law School
  • David Hoffman, Cybersecurity Professor, Duke University
  • Chris Hoofnagle, Berkeley Center for Law & Technology
  • Jane Horvath, Chief Privacy Officer, Apple
  • Francella Ochillo, Next Century Cities
  • Alexys Ogorek, Law Student, Duke University
  • Barak Richman, Duke Law School
  • Johnny Ryan, Council for Civil Liberties
  • Bobbi Spector, Federal Trade Commission
  • Kyle Taylor, The Real Facebook Oversight Board
  • Rory Van Loo, Boston University Law School
  • David Vladek, former director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection
  • Michael “Buz” Waitzkin, Duke University Science & Society