Is True Online Privacy Only for the Rich?

by Gry Hasselbalch and Pernille Tranberg

First appeared in DailyDot 23rd October

BLOG: How come Facebook knows that I have a mother with Alzheimer’s, a woman asked the other day. She was sure that she hadn’t provided the social medium with such sensitive information. But when quizzed a bit further, she confirmed that she had googled the illness and been browsing the Alzheimer’s Association’s website. Both websites “gossip” about visitors’ behavior behind their back to other websites, including Facebook, via third-party cookies.

Continue reading “Is True Online Privacy Only for the Rich?”

Data Ethics – by Gry Hasselbalch & Pernille Tranberg

The book will be available as kindle and ePub on Amazon and iBooks 31st October 2016.

Data Ethics – The New Competitive Advantage is written by Gry Hasselbalch and Pernille Tranberg and is supported by Internet Society ( The book describes over 50 cases of mainly private companies working with data ethics to varying degrees. Respect for privacy and the right to control one’s own data are becoming key parameters to gain a competitive edge in today’s business world. Companies, organisations and authorities which view data ethics as a social responsibility, giving it the same importance as environmental awareness and respect for human rights, are tomorrow’s winners. Digital trust is paramount to digital growth and prosperity.

This book combines broad trend analyses with case studies to examine companies which use data ethics to varying degrees. The authors make the case that citizens and consumers are no longer just concerned about a lack of control over their data, but they also have begun to act. In addition, they describe alternative business models, advances in technology and a new European data protection regulation, all of which combine to foster a growing market for data-ethical products and services.

The authors’ critical look at tech trends and the ethical dilemmas intertwined with them is sure to interest responsible key players seeking out the best way to get started with data ethics and how to use it to develop digital trust.

Continue reading “Data Ethics – by Gry Hasselbalch & Pernille Tranberg”

Modern Alchemy: Solving the AI Mystery

BLOG: “Algorithms you get me like no other”. A person is leaning into a hole in an otherwise empty plain wall. Outside is a big sky with billions of distant stars. “30 songs you didn’t know you loved yet”, continues the Spotify ad. A spot for your eyes to dwell and escape as you rumble through the dark sizzling summer hot tunnels, squeezed between other subway commuters.

The Spotify ad billboards you see in the New York subway these days tell you how mystic personalization algorithms will change your life. They are higher mystic beings that somehow know you better than you know yourself. They will foresee your future, transform it into something better (a starry boundless sky), you can “get lost” in their universe and escape from the plain wall of every day life. Their science is the alchemy of today. Creating gold out of rocks.

Continue reading “Modern Alchemy: Solving the AI Mystery”

Who decides what privacy is?

Blog (updated 15 June 2016): There’s a battle of words going on, the battle is about the definition of “privacy”, and it’s been going on for centuries. Somehow we’ve led ourselves to believe that the definition of privacy that we all think we share is something intrinsically connected to the individual. But actually it’s not. Although privacy as such is in fact only something the individual can claim (corporations and states cannot), the individual has always been very absent in the very construction of the concept.

Continue reading “Who decides what privacy is?”

The Internet of Toys: Data Ethical Considerations (a one pager for developers and others)

Continue reading “The Internet of Toys: Data Ethical Considerations (a one pager for developers and others)”

Virtual reality is coming and it’s sending your data to Facebook

BLOG: In 2015 one of the most promising virtual reality products Oculus Rift reached the headlines of the world tech press. Oculus Rift has been described as expensive, but worth every penny. For the few that were able to test the device before its release, they primarily described is as an amazing experience, – a top score seeing that “experience” and the perfection of this  is the core criteria for judging any virtual reality product. And the market predictions for this new virtual extension of reality were skyrocketing  going from 600K units in 2016 to 2 million in 2017. It was sold out immediately in pre order. However, after its recent release it is now being more carefully scrutinized by users and the reviews have been less exstatic primarily due to concerns regarding the privacy of its users.

An Ethics for the Digital Age

BLOG: This January the European Data Protection Supervisor presented his new “Ethics Advisory Group”. A group of experts that will help him “reconsider the ethical dimension of the relationships between human rights, technology, markets and business models and their implications for the rights to privacy and data protection in the digital environment.” He is not the first European decision maker or thought leader to bring forward ethics as a guiding principle in the digital age. Over the last year digital ethics, and in particular data ethics, have become the “talk of the town” in Europe. Based on the realisation that laws have not followed pace with the development of digital technologies, technologists, academics, policymakers and businesses are today revisiting cultural values and moral systems when groping for a new ethical framework for the digital age.


Continue reading “An Ethics for the Digital Age”

Opacity in machine learning algorithms

BLOG: In her new article “How the machine ‘thinks’: Understanding opacity in machine learning algorithms” (January 2016) Jenna Burrell from UC Berkley School of Information discusses methods to investigate opacity in algorithms. Once a technical, opaque word belonging to the sphere of computer scientists and programmers, “Algorithm” has today become a commonly used buzz word in business discourse. So much so that discussions about “big data” in an informed business community will always include a reference to the “Algorithmic Economy”. A new business adventure based on finding patterns in data, creating profiles, predicting and responding to data, making meaning out of data and transforming it into value.

Continue reading “Opacity in machine learning algorithms”

Report on Digital Challenges for Consumers (Danish Consumers’ Council)

A new 2016 report from the Danish Consumers’ Council “Digital Challenges for Consumers in Denmark” by Gry Hasselbalch maps key challenges for Danish consumers in the digital era. A rapid digital adoption in Denmark has created a number of challenges for Danish consumers. In particular automatic data collection and correlation performed by both public and private actors challenge consumer privacy. Laws, consumers’ skill, as well as public institution’s and private businesses’ conduct, have not progressed in a way that adequately protects and empowers consumers’ in a digital market and public sphere. The report also points to solutions. There is a need for an updated regulatory data protection framework, a development of consumer skills that provide consumers’ with background knowledge of the life of and interests in their data and the advancement of privacy by design solutions in public and private business.

Continue reading “Report on Digital Challenges for Consumers (Danish Consumers’ Council)”

About the new EU age limit

BLOG: The long-awaited EU data protection reform agreed on by the Europan Union late Tuesday night stipulated among others that companies cannot process the data of children and young people under the age of 16 without their parents’ consent.

Continue reading “About the new EU age limit”

Standing in the Rip Current of the Algorithmic Economy with Closed Eyes

BLOG: How can we question the ethics of a service if we don’t have access to the details of how it is designed to act on data? How can we put a health warning on a product if we don’t know the ingredients?

Continue reading “Standing in the Rip Current of the Algorithmic Economy with Closed Eyes”

Internet of Things: Ethical considerations for the Digital Age

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 21.32.23

TALKS & EVENTS: “How can you put a health warning on a product if you don’t even know the ingredients”. Talking about Data Ethics at Internet Governance Forum 2015

Continue reading “Internet of Things: Ethical considerations for the Digital Age”

UN Internet Governance Forum, Joao Pessoa, Brazil, 10-13 November 2015

TALKS & EVENTS: The Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is a series of annual conferences organized by the UN. It brings together representatives from various stakeholder groups in discussions on public policy issues relating to the Internet. The IGF informs those with policy-making power in both the public and private sectors. At their annual meeting delegates discuss, exchange information and share good practices with each other.

Continue reading “UN Internet Governance Forum, Joao Pessoa, Brazil, 10-13 November 2015”

Panel debate with toymakers at EU Commission: Data Ethics in the Internet of Toys

TALKS & EVENTS: On 29th October representatives of toy companies and tech critics met to discuss the evolving Internet of Toys and the data ethical implications of this at the European Commission Safer Internet Forum. The fact that we are talking about data ethics with toy makers at this early stage of the development of an internet of toys is yet another symptom of the paradigm shift in business development where privacy and data ethics increasingly are perceived as competitive parameters.

Continue reading “Panel debate with toymakers at EU Commission: Data Ethics in the Internet of Toys”

A toy that wants to “phone home”

BLOG: Toy manufacturers are today creating intelligent toys that remember, find patterns and respond to data from children. We need a data ethical approach to innovation in the development of an “Internet of Things” for children.

Continue reading “A toy that wants to “phone home””

Machines in school: One more version of “free”

BLOG: “If it’s free then you are the product”. This statement normally applies to consumers paying for online services with their data. Another version of this is developers using big industry machine learning technologies for free to build and create services they don’t own the real value of.

Continue reading “Machines in school: One more version of “free””

A human rights guide for internet users adapted to young people

AWARENESS RAISING: This guide is adapted to you internet users to provide them  with insights into their human rights online.

Continue reading “A human rights guide for internet users adapted to young people”

Gry Hasselbalch – contact

Advisor for organisations on the social and data ethical implications of tech. Co-founder of Independent ethics expert for the EU. Worked with internet policy and digital rights for 10 years in the pan EU network on youth & internet. Behind several larger studies and reports. Author of Data Ethics – The New Competitive Advantage. @mediamocracy,

Phone: +39 3512705584 (Italy), +45 29827374 (Denmark)

See more

Society of the Destiny Machine and the Algorithmic God (s)

BLOG: Our destiny is a product. Fate is developed upon and innovated with. Fate is part of an actual machinery. It can be sold and traded with. Fate is something the Destiny Machine produces.

Continue reading “Society of the Destiny Machine and the Algorithmic God (s)”

Thoughts from panel discussion at GCCS 2015: Rethinking the social impact of new technologies

BLOG: I was recently on a panel with Erik Huizer, Philip Brey and Tom de Bok moderated by Dinand Tinholt. We were discussing the social implications of ‘new’ technologies e.i. robotics and AI.

Continue reading “Thoughts from panel discussion at GCCS 2015: Rethinking the social impact of new technologies”

“You’re going in the wrong DIRECTION!”

BLOG: Surveillance is the default. We need a change of direction. But waking up society can be a challenge. Did we hit the trucks yet?

It’s a Steve Martin and John Candy farce. Passenger: “He says we are going in the wrong direction”. Driver shrugs: “ah he’s drunk. How would he know where we are going? He he… what a moron!”

Youth, privacy and online media: Framing the right to privacy in public policy-making

by Gry Hasselbalch Lapenta, Rikke Frank Jørgensen

PUBLICATIONS: The right to privacy is a fundamental human right defined in international and regional human rights instruments. As such it has been included as a core component of key legislature and policy proceedings throughout the brief history of the World Wide Web. While it is generally recognized in public policy making that the right to privacy is challenged in new ways in a structurally transformed online public sphere, the way in which it has been framed does not seem to acknowledge this transformation.

Continue reading “Youth, privacy and online media: Framing the right to privacy in public policy-making”

Writing a book: The Privacy Paradigm Shift in Business Development

PUBLICATIONS: Pernille Tranberg og Gry Hasselbalch are currently writing a book about Data Ethics in business development. The book is based on more than 40 business cases worldwide. Expected publication in English and Danish summer 2016.

Continue reading “Writing a book: The Privacy Paradigm Shift in Business Development”

Den anden digitale kløft: Køb og sælg dit privatliv på nettet

(Read an English shorter version of this article here: THE SECOND DIGITAL DIVIDE: PAY FOR PRIVACY AND TRADE WITH PRIVACY)

BLOG: I fremtiden kan du købe forskellige grader af privatliv på nettet. Hvis du har råd til det.

Continue reading “Den anden digitale kløft: Køb og sælg dit privatliv på nettet”

The Second Digital Divide: Pay for Privacy and Trade with your Privacy

BLOG: If you weren’t already aware of it, you are being profiled online and your personal data traded in a billion dollar data industry. Don’t worry, most people don’t know much about this. The personal data market is incomprehensible to the average consumer mostly because the trades with their data happen without their direct involvement. And this seems to be the main problem when great minds have to come up with innovative solutions to today’s privacy invasive online business models. The fact that consumers are not involved directly in the trade. That they don’t get their cut of the cake. “Pay for Privacy” and “Trade with Privacy” become the norm, presented as the most fair solutions. But fair to who? Perhaps it’s more a question of a change in fundamental perspective?

Continue reading “The Second Digital Divide: Pay for Privacy and Trade with your Privacy”


AWARENESS RAISING: “Every day we leave huge amounts of digital footprints on the internet. We can’t prevent all of the footprints in being collected. But we can control many of the traces if we know the right tools. In this movie two teenagers investigate their own digital identity and learn how to control their digital footprints.”

I took part in this film made by Danish Save the Children Denmark in 2014 as one of the “experts”. The film is in Danish but with English subtitles. Watch it with your kids!

Blog at

Up ↑