An imagined tech policy conversation in an English farmyard

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
UK policy

Napoleon: I bring you great news. Mr Pilkington and I have reached an agreement. From now on, we will protect our young workers from algorithmic profiling by Big Farm through the Piglet’s Code!

Benjamin: That’s great, but I’m not too worried about Big Farm. Our piglets have had their lives turned upside down because they lost their pasture places because of that dang Agriculture-level exam algorithim. Can they use the Code to defend themselves?

Napoleon: LOL, you’re joking right? The Piglet’s Code only applies to Information Society Services providing online public services. Public authorities are exempt, because we know best what’s in their own interest. Anyway, stop interrupting me, swine.

Napoleon clears his throat.

As we prepare to exit the Pastoral Union, we are in a uniqely strong position to carve out a uniquely Manor Farm model of regulation. We will do so by making Manor Farm the safest place in the world to be a free range animal through the Online Farms Framework.

Clover: Can I ask a question? The Swine Flu app you made us all use started popping up some really strange messages, like saying I’d get less hay if I didn’t upload the details of all the other animals on the Farm. I also went down to Mr Frederick’s field where the really good apples are, and the app told me I was going too far away from Manor Farm and had to get back right away. Doesn’t the Online Farms Framework protect us from that? Also, for that matter, Jessie and Bluebell’s puppies tested positive, and now no one’s seen them in weeks. Where’d they go?

Napoleon: My God, don’t you care about the puppies? We’ve taken them someplace where they will be protected. And that’s why we’re asking you to disclose every animal you’ve been in contact with immediately, and to share your location with us at all times. It’s for your own safety. Anyway, the Online Farms Framework does not apply to public order or national emergencies, such as the one I’m going to declare right now.

Clover: What?

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which.

The Author

I’m a UK tech policy wonk based in Glasgow. I work for an open web built around international standards of human rights, privacy, accessibility, and freedom of expression. The content and opinions on this site are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of any current or previous team.