Technology and Inequality

As new forms of technology integrate into more areas of public life, addressing the inequality exacerbated by technology should be considered a growing emergency.


Last updated on February 9, 2024

Migrants from Texas use power for their cellphones after being dropped off at a train station in San Diego, California on October 10, 2023. More than 200,000 migrants have crossed the San Diego sector of the US-Mexico border this year from January to August, the highest number in two decades. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
(FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

What IS the problem?

New technologies have revolutionized the way people work, learn, and communicate around the world, and these tools are critical to how communities access information.

But without robust regulations, digital technologies could amplify underlying social, racial, and economic inequalities. Here are some of the concerns:

  1. New technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), are not neutral, but more often reflect or intensify existing historical inequalities and biases.
  2. Soaring global wealth and social inequalities have often been magnified by new technologies and insufficient access, which increase disparities in health, education, housing, and employment.
  3. These inequalities most impact the rights to non-discrimination and equality, decent working conditions, and privacy.

Social protection and welfare systems around the world are increasingly likely to be integrated with systems of automation, leading to more racial and social bias and more frequent denials of essential services to the most marginalized groups.

young mother with social services or housing officer
(sturti/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Asylum and immigration systems in many regions are often linked with digital technologies such as the use of biometric identification, surveillance technology, and automation in the processing of asylum claims, leading to the normalization of “digital borders.

Mature middle eastern woman registering with a soldier at a community center
(FG Trade/E+ via Getty)

The growth of the informal or gig economy, in which access to work is controlled by smartphone apps and wages are often determined by nontransparent algorithms, has contributed to the erosion of workplace protections around the world, including for some of the most marginalized workers.

Food delivery man getting ready for work


Equity-informed approaches to regulation can help unleash the transformative potential of these technologies to all, including:

  • Develop appropriate and clear regulations for governments, corporations, the human rights community, and other stakeholders to help increase transparency and equity around the use of technology
  • Center the experiences, voices, and priorities of affected populations – people from outside the global majority
  • Collaborate with leaders, activists, and civil society organizations whose work touches on issues of inequality more broadly
A CORUÑA GALICIA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 05: A person observes one of the works at the opening of the international exhibition 'Al: More than human', at the headquarters of Afundacion Obra Social de ABANCA, on September 5, 2022, in A Coruña, Galicia, Spain. (Photo By M. Dylan/Europa Press via Getty Images)
(M. Dylan/Europa Press via Getty Images)

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(Getty Images)

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(SEAN GLADWELL/Getty Images)

Technology and Human Rights

We believe it’s time technology puts people and human rights first. Learn how Amnesty International USA focuses on holding Big Tech and social media companies like Alphabet (Google), Meta (Facebook), TikTok, and Twitter accountable.

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