|Affiliation:||Oxford Internet Institute / Alan Turing Institute|
|Date:||Friday 1st October (week 0, Michaelmas Term 2021)|
POSTPONED: new date TBC
Below the visible aspects of social media and other Internet applications lies a vast infrastructure, where opaque companies and technologists exercise significant but rarely questioned power over the Internet. In this talk, recent OII-graduate Dr. Corinne Cath will outline some of the most pressing concerns regarding the role of these often opaque but crucial actors– including Content Delivery Networks and other less visible Internet infrastructure providers-- as political gatekeepers and content moderators. From domain name registrar GoDaddy deleting anti-abortion websites to Cloudflare rescinding their services to hate-filled messaging boards, there is a growing trend of internet companies supporting social media taking political decisions. Yet, public discussions concerning Internet politics tend to focus on companies in the content business: social media companies, online retailers, and so on. But these companies would not function without the support of lower-layer infrastructure. Dr. Cath draws from her PhD research, which included three years of ethnographic fieldwork, to examine how the architects and engineers of the Internet’s infrastructure, negotiate these roles to discuss and what questions it raises about accountability in the tech sector.
Dr. Corinne Cath is a recent graduate of the Ph.D. program at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. She is a cultural anthropologist who studies the politics of internet infrastructure. Her PhD thesis is an ethnography of civil society efforts to influence the development of internet infrastructure that outlines the cultural aspects of infrastructural power. She is also the co-chair of the Public Interest Technology Group (PITG), a loosely organized group of public interest technologists working in Internet governance.