Friday, 25 June 2010

The Curfew - surveillace 'edugame'

The day after I start looking into educational games for discussing and learning about privacy, I find out about this. 'The Curfew' - a game about surveillance and authoritariamism from Channel 4, launching this summer. For young people 14+. The 'Shepherd Party' video (below) is chilling in its excellent graphics. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the subtance of this.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Social Network Bill of Rights

Derived from the conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy, this is doing the rounds at the moment. It does a good job of summing up the issues involved in social networking.

  1. Honesty: Honor your privacy policy and terms of service

  2. Clarity: Make sure that policies, terms of service, and settings are easy to find and understand

  3. Freedom of speech: Do not delete or modify my data without a clear policy and justification

  4. Empowerment : Support assistive technologies and universal accessibility

  5. Self-protection: Support privacy-enhancing technologies

  6. Data minimization: Minimize the information I am required to provide and share with others

  7. Control: Let me control my data, and don’t facilitate sharing it unless I agree first

  8. Predictability: Obtain my prior consent before significantly changing who can see my data.

  9. Data portability: Make it easy for me to obtain a copy of my data

  10. Protection: Treat my data as securely as your own confidential data unless I choose to share it, and notify me if it is compromised

  11. Right to know: Show me how you are using my data and allow me to see who and what has access to it.

  12. Right to self-define: Let me create more than one identity and use pseudonyms. Do not link them without my permission.

  13. Right to appeal: Allow me to appeal punitive actions

  14. Right to withdraw: Allow me to delete my account, and remove my data

Monday, 14 June 2010

Steve Graham at LSE - video & audio

Steve Graham gave a talk at the LSE last week 'Cities under Seige' about his new book. Worth watching. Video and Audio

Monday, 7 June 2010

Unauthorised Access

A Film by Annaliza Savage, 1994

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Surveillance in Wired - July 2010

I've got a subscription to Wired magazine. This might be very old fashioned way to access the content - in physical form, but I like it. I'm a big fan of the magazine (and it's various websites - especially the Danger Room and Threat Level blogs), especially now that it has a UK edition. It's pretty useful for keeping a handle on tech culture issues and developments.

and it's all about surveillance.

Well, it's not. This may just be the way that I'm reading it, with a particular interest and motivation, and a tendency to see surveillance issues in many things. However, there is a strong association between information technology and surveillance, which has been remarked on by many. Wired occasionally investigates the surveillant dimension of information technology head on, and at other times it comes up as part of a story written from a different perspective. Given the subscription, I thought I might pull out some of these topics, with a little commentary from each issue.

You're being tracked - Amber Marks (34-35) a neat graphic example of various attempts to create 'malevolent intent' detection - a lot of these coming from various university departments. These things thing that by detecting some sort of 'leaky signal' from the body, that you can spot somebody who is up to something malicious. Or more likely, the vastly more numerous population of people who are stressed, angry, upset, tired, late for work etc. Amber's the author of HeadSpace.

Shred the Evidence - Guy Martin (p.124-133)
An examination of attempts to digitally recover and re-create the shredded archives of post-soviet Eastern European secret police and intelligence services, including in East Germany and the Czech republic. These archives were truely massive. Whilst the article focuses upon the technical challenge of pulling thousands of sacks of shredded paper and mangled digital tape into something readable and searchable, there is some analysis of the way that this reconstruction is threatening to those people who had been state agents during the Soviet era, who may still be involved in political life. Its an interesting issue because of the competing imperatives of privacy (the archives were created as a tool of control, and probably contain a lot of information on the subjects of state surveillance), and the desire to undestand how the various systems of oppression and control functioned, and the desire to bring to justice those who participated in them (finding out who the agents were and what they did). The plans to open up certain archives in a fully searchable web-accessible form is interesting, as is the worry that the published databases are being hoovered up by the still functioning intelligence services of other states. Not mentioned in this article is the historical reality of the way that databases and files from one regime are often appropriated and used by their successors, conquerers, or 'liberators'. I was recently told how start up private military contractors in Iraq worked very rapidly to acquire records from Iraqi state ministries following the fall of the Sadam regime, upon which they started to develop databases now used for vetting Iraqi workers on US bases.

Space Jam - Evan Schwartz (pg.100-103) In this article about the sheer amount of junk floating in orbit around the earth (or rather hurtling around it at extremely high speed), and various attempts to remove some of it, we learn about the 'Space Surveillance Network' a USA military unit run by the Joint Space Operations Centre, whose job is to track as much of this space debris spinning around the planet as they can, to try and anticipate the major potential collisions. It's a nice little account of surveillance of the non-human (although with implciations for our use of space for communication, navigation, mapping etc). The 'big sky theory' (the idea that space is big (very big) so it doesn't matter what you dump in it, is a mistake with hindsight, but aren't we sort of still treating the sea in this way?

The Great Check-in Battle - Neal Pollack (pg92-97)
looks at the competion between location based social networking services (Gowalla and Foursquare) . Not read all of this yet, but there are clear surveillance implications for the increase in location-based services, and the sort of self-monitoring and revelation to friends pushed through a centralised social network service, that presumably gets its market share from doing something with that data, which mirrors what we've seen with facebook, but with an increased spatial component. John Battelle writes about how the 'check-in' adds an extra layer of detail to collected models of intention (the search, the purchase, the query, the social graph and the the status update).

A Robot that Spies (pg80) - a wi-fi controllable spy robot with webcam, microphone speaker etc. Controllable over the net, and even works as a VOIP phone. Can I have one of these please?

IDIS 2010

I attended the 3rd Interdisciplinary workshop on Identity in the Information Society (IDIS 2010) held in Rome, the week before last.

I've got very complete notes on the presentations, keynotes and question and answer sessions. However, the purpose of the workshop was to present and gain feedback on works in progress, so given that a lot of the papers need a bit more work before publication (my own contribution very much included), I'm not going to post those notes here.

I presented on public sector engagement in online identity management. We've looked at how various complexes of actors are coming together to produce educational and guidance material on how people can manage their personal information. It's part of the wider VOME attempt to examine how people think about privacy and consent online - Our hunch is that these guidance material (in the form of websites such as Get Safe Online) will play a part in shared understandings of personal information, privacy and consent online (although in a far from deterministic sense).

There were some interesting keynote presentations on Smart data agents, privacy by design and the future of subject access requests from George Tomaki, The Privacy commissioner of Ontario and Microsoft's Caspar Bowden respectively.

And I got to go to Rome.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Tate Modern: Exposed: Voyerism, Surveillance and the Camera

There's an interesting new exhibition on at the Tate Modern in London
quoting from the website:

Exposed offers a fascinating look at pictures made on the sly, without the explicit permission of the people depicted. With photographs from the late nineteenth century to present day, the pictures present a shocking, illuminating and witty perspective on iconic and taboo subjects. ...
The UK is now the most surveyed country in the world. We have an obsession with voyeurism, privacy laws, freedom of media, and surveillance – images captured and relayed on camera phones, YouTube or reality TV.

Much of Exposed focuses on surveillance, including works by both amateur and press photographers, and images produced using automatic technology such as CCTV. The
issues raised are particularly relevant in the current climate, with topical debates raging around the rights and desires of individuals, terrorism and the increasing availability and use of surveillance. Exposed confronts these issues and their implications head-on.

I think I'll try and get down to this.