How big data is helping states kick poor people off welfare

In The News Piece in Vox
Feb. 6, 2018

Virginia Eubanks was interviewed in Vox about her new book, Automating Inequality:

Technology is being used to target and punish poor people in America, according to a new book by Virginia Eubanks, a professor of political science at the University of Albany, SUNY.

Here’s one example: In 2014, Maine Gov. Paul LePage released data to the public detailing over 3,000 transactions from welfare recipients using EBT cards in the state. (EBT cards are like state-issued debit cards, and can be used to disperse benefits like food stamps.)

LePage created a list of every time this money had been used in a strip club, liquor store, or bar, and used it to push his political agenda of limiting access to state benefits. LePage’s list represents a tiny fraction of overall EBT withdrawals, but it effectively reinforced negative stereotypes and narratives about who relies on welfare benefits and why.