Meet the Staff: Tee Sannon, Technology Policy Program Director 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024
A photo of Tee with a light pink frame
<- Back to Washington in Action Spring 2024 Newsletter - Table of Contents

Joining the ACLU-WA was a natural next step for Tee Sannon.   

After working in academia as a social science researcher on technology issues such as privacy and surveillance, she wanted to take everything she learned and find somewhere she could apply the skills and knowledge she gained.   

“I wanted to make real social impact,” Sannon said. “I had done in-depth research on these topics and wanted to make meaningful impact on policy.”  

Sannon’s research explored how different technologies impact people’s lives, particularly focusing on those who have been historically marginalized and excluded from conversations about technology policy and design.   

“I’ve always found technology fascinating — it is such an intrinsic part of all our lives. I’m interested in understanding people's needs and challenges around technology, and making sure that digital advances don’t cause them harm or reinforce existing disparities,” she said.   

Sannon was born in New Delhi, went to high school in Singapore, and college in Toronto before moving to New York, where she earned her master's degree and first started working on technology policy issues.  

She then moved upstate to get her Ph.D. at Cornell University, specializing in the field of human-computer interaction. Her research focused on how we can make sure tech is more inclusive, equitable, and privacy-protective, especially for historically marginalized groups.   

Sannon’s dissertation focused on centering the voices and experiences of low-income and disabled workers in the gig economy. She did interviews, field work and other research to understand the challenges workers face when they use various digital apps to earn money, like Lyft and Instacart.    

She found that while all gig workers face challenges, people who hold multiple marginalized identities are disproportionately harmed.   

“Ratings can be biased, algorithmic surveillance can be extra punitive, and these voices haven’t been considered in how the tech should be designed,” Sannon said.   

Based on her research, Sannon developed a set of design and policy recommendations on how to improve privacy, equity, and accessibility on digital work platforms while mitigating bias and algorithmic harms.  

After Cornell, Sannon worked as a research fellow at Drexel University and the University of Michigan, where she continued her research at the intersection of technology and civil rights issues. Taking what she learned in academia to a role in policy development was a natural next step. Sannon describes her first six months at ACLU-WA as very personally rewarding.   

“Being here allows me to defend values that I care about and have advocated for in my research,” she said

<- Back to Washington in Action Spring 2024 Newsletter - Table of Contents