New America's Open Technology Institute
, Asset Building Program
, and Breadwinners and Caregivers Program
are teaming up to host an event this week
to explore the interconnected issues of privacy and poverty, specifically as they play out in the public assistance system.
Families and individuals accessing the public benefits system are required to provide extensive personal and financial information as a condition of receiving benefits. Depending on the requirements of individual programs, they may also have to endure unannounced home visits, fingerprinting or drug testing, and other routinized violations of privacy that more privileged members of society have come to expect. These intrusions are often justified by policymakers as measures to “reduce fraud” or to ensure that only the most desperate people access the programs.