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.
– by Gry Hasselbalch
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.
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.
– by Gry Hasselbalch
“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.
– by Gry Hasselbalch, May 14 2015
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.
– by Gry Hasselbalch
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: “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).
In 1992 the public gained access to the former Eastern Germany secret service Stasi archives. They consisted of 180 kilometers files and 35 million other documents, photos , audio, documents and taped phone conversations. The archives are evidence of a gigantic effort. Physical penetration into people’s homes, hours of interception and handling of information. Stasi was established in 1950. This was also the year the European Convention on Human Rights was defined (signed in 1953 ) . Two years before in 1948, the UN Declaration on Human Rights was signed. Both had and still have an article on the right to privacy.
We have moved on to an important stage in the evolution of the internet characterized by an increasing demand from all sectors of society to regain control. This stage is comprised by legal/interstate responses to the challenges to privacy, technical community responses and civil society sentiments and actions.