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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
AWARENESS RAISING: This guide is adapted to you internet users to provide them with insights into their human rights online.
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.
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!”
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.
(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.
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?
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: If you still didn’t read Maciej Cegłowski’s talk from May 2014 on the evolution of the surveillance pr default business model of the internet, please do so now. It cuts straight through the narratives of industry, government and other interest groups in the surveillance- privacy – internet debates of today and exposes them for what they are: specific views with specific interests heavily embedded in very specific power structures. Enjoy!
“My point again: it’s silly to pretend that keeping mass surveillance in private hands would protect us from abuses by government. The only way to keep user information safe is not to store it.” – Maciej Cegłowski
BLOG: “It’s like preaching to the converted” one participant tells me when I arrive one day into the CPDP 2015 conference. And so it is. The meta narrative of the conference is so univocally clear and concurred that the Twitter feed #CPDP2015 is almost at a stand still. Expect from occasional ill received peeps from US representatives about compliance with EU data protection standards and so on and so forth, privacy is generally viewed as a business opportunity, an EU competitive differentiator and a legal right (yes, one still need to emphasise that).
BLOG: The drones are arriving. Not only as military devices. But as a new business model, a different way of conducting journalism and a new research tool. The tiny device will fly high above and with images add a new perspective that reveals a world of detail that would not have been possible from a ground perspective. According to the media and journalism scholar Kathleen Bartzen Culver presenting at this weeks panel “Drones at the margins” at the annual CPDP 2015 conference it is estimated that the US will have between 20.000 – 30.000 drones by 2020 and that drones will be a 90 billion dollar industry in the future. Evidently so called ‘drone laws’ and policies are emerging aimed at framing the conduct of people and institutions with the devices. Continue reading “Next: “The Selfie Drone” – which laws apply?”