#UnitedCitizens

71-75 Shelton Street, Covent Garden London, WC2H 9JQ, United Kingdom

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We are #UnitedCitizens

UPDATE (Monday 8th April 2019): Due to a tie in the first round of voting, we are having a second round of voting. Click here to vote between (1) “Democratic accountability of tech leaders”, or (2) “Disinformation and fake news”. It’s your final chance to decide which issue we campaign on. Deadline: 23:59 BST Sunday 14th April 2019.

Introduction

In 2019, members of United Citizens will vote for the first campaign we will run. It’s simple: We believe in global democracy, and we live this principally by giving power to our members to decide our agenda. After voting for the issue, the United Citizens team will develop campaign plans and work with members to act.

The process

  1. Voting opens at 00:01 GMT on Monday 25th March 2019 on this webpage: https://weareunitedcitizens.org/vote-campaign-2019.
  2. Members will be sent a password-protected link to the voting page.
  3. Each member will have one vote to choose one issue.
  4. Voting closes at 23:59 GMT on Sunday 31st March 2019.
  5. If there is no clear winning issue, a second round will happen.
  6. Voters will have the chance to choose out of the two top issues. This will take place between Monday 8th to 23:59 BST Sunday 14th April 2019.
  7. The winning issue will be communicated to the community.
  8. The United Citizens team will then begin planning the campaign.

Voting page: https://weareunitedcitizens.org/vote-for-our-first-campaign-second-round/

Eligibility

Members of United Citizens are eligible to vote. To become a member, go to https://weareunitedcitizens.org/membership/.

The issues

The list of options is based on the findings of The Fourth Group’s 2018 “Global Inquiry into Citizens in the Digital Age”. The inquiry engaged with hundreds of people from 40 different countries across nine major regions around the world, asking citizens what they believe are the biggest problems caused by tech. This shortlist is based on the major issues they expressed concern about, and issues which we as citizens can organise around:

  • Democratic accountability
  • Disinformation and fake news
  • Poor conditions of digital-age workers
  • Data exploitation
  • Lethal automated weapons

To inform voters about these issues, here is a brief explanation of each issue:

Democratic Accountability

CEOs and founders of multinational tech companies have amassed a significant amount of influence on the way we live, work, and play. We celebrate the amazing products and services that have been created by these companies, however we are concerned about the new balance of power.

In 2018, The Fourth Group called for Mark Zuckerberg to appear in front of US Congress and UK Parliament. Whilst the CEO of Facebook has answered questions from US politicians, he is yet to appear in front of UK Parliament to respond to the Cambridge Analytica scandal that impacted 1.1 million Brits.

We are firm believers in democratic accountability, and would campaign to ensure that business leaders – no matter how powerful – are held to account by political representatives.

Related news story: “Not even an international grand committee on “fake news” made up of members of nine national parliaments, from Canada to Brazil, could compel Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg to appear before it today.”

Disinformation and fake news

Two recent political earthquakes shook Western politics: First came the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, and second came Donald Trump’s election to become President of the United States.

Following these results, there were accusations of fake news and disinformation being spread during the campaigns which – critics argued – skewed the results. Since then, multiple efforts have been made by policymakers, developers, teachers, and social media companies to stop the spread of fake news.

We are firm believers in democracy underpinned by facts, and would campaign to ensure that political decision-making isn’t harmed by mistruths.

Related news story: Dealing With Disinformation: Facebook And YouTube Need To Take Down Provably False “News”

Poor conditions of digital-age workers

The fourth industrial revolution is changing the nature of work. New business models and types of work have decreased protections of workers, and ongoing problems such as child labour continue.

In 2018, author James Bloodworth found that Amazon factory workers were forced to pee in water bottles for fear of missing targets. In 2017 Amnesty International discovered that children in the Congo worked in mines to source minerals for Apple products.

We are firm believers in technology’s ability to improve working conditions, and would campaign against cases where workers are losing out in the fourth industrial revolution.

Related article: The gig economy is quietly undermining a century of worker protections

Data exploitation

Our data can be used to help us make better informed choices, but it can also be misused and mishandled.

In 2014, Uber tracked one of its users without the user’s consent, and in England there are pilot programmes which use data and 1,400 indicators to rate a person’s risk factor in committing crimes in the future.

We are firm believers in fighting against the exploitation of our data, and would campaign to ensure that citizens’ digital rights are protected.

Related article: European policymakers are looking to punish data misuse

Lethal automated weapons

Giving machines the ability and capacity to decide whether to kill a human being poses huge potential threats to humanity. The risk factors are real, and some are unimaginable.

In the past there were peace movements calling for nuclear disarmament. One question for citizen activists to today is whether or not there is a need for a new peace movement calling for every state to ban autonomous killer robots.

We are firm believers in not empowering machines with the ability to kill without human accountability, and we will campaign to ensure a ban on lethal automated weapons.

Related article: Are Killer Robots the Future of War? Parsing the Facts on Autonomous Weapons

Things to think about

  • Global: As a global community, it is worth considering the impact we want to have on the world.
  • Practical: What issue could we build a practical and workable and winnable campaign around?
  • Actionable: Which issue would you practically want to go out and campaign around?

Got a question? Need help?

Feel free to email us: UnitedCitizens@fourth.group.