Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Recent Twittering

I started using twitter a few months back (@dbarnardwills) Since then I've found it useful for keeping up to date with things happening in the technology, privacy, and political worlds. Not perfect - I've not given up journal alerts, or subscriptions to UK Parliament email, or the Surveillance JISC mailing list - but it has certainly introduced me to things I might not have otherwise come across. The key to this seems to be finding the right people to follow. There is no one idea person, but to my mind they would combine knowledge of a subject area, unique or specialist sources of information, and some form of filtering. I like to follow specialists the best. You can find out who I follow here: https://twitter.com/DBarnardWills/following

A good proportion of my own twitter feed is retweets that fit with my own interests: Surveillance, privacy, technology and politics, international and cyber-security. There's also the occasional one that happens when the touch-screen on my phone is a little imprecise... I see the main function here being to collate information that I think interesting, as well as adding in material from other sources, that others might find useful. As an academic working in the above areas, I'm a specialist, and I use twitter as such. I also find it useful to retweet when I'm away from the office, so that I can highlight the content to myself later.

The twitter feed is summarised over on the right of this page, but retweets don't always show.
The following is a summary of some of the recent material that useing twitter has exposed me to:

There's been quite a bit of interesting material on the surveillance of young people online. We're working in this area as part of the broader privacy and consent project. News in this area has included a new Wall Street Journal investigation. This looked at the most popular children's websites and examined the amount of behavioural tracking and targeted advertising they were doing - finding that that children were more under surveillance online than users of a typical website. This follows a study (conducted by a net security company) that teens lack privacy skills. I've got some ideas on why this might be, arising from the research I've just finished on 'e-safety education', but for the time being there's a great resource now available on active citizenship for young people.

In Privacy, there's a guide to translating a privacy policy (which is something else we're looking at). A new website called 'Dark Patterns' aims to demonstrate the underhand persuasive techniques used online to try and influence web users into signing up for, buying, or giving away more personal information, than they really wanted to. In related news, apparently web privacy start up companies are having a hard time getting people to pay for privacy. Also, a burglary ring in New Hampshire, using facebook to work out when people are not at home.

Very importantly, the Future for Privacy forum has produced a list of 'privacy papers for policy makers' - the necessary reading for people making political decisions about privacy (and academics in that field). Patient Privacy rights has released a paper arguing the case for informed consent in regard to patient privacy. Also, here's a potentially interesting paper on an 'automated privacy dictionary' that attempts to identify privacy markers in discourse. There's also a new journal coming from Oxford Journals next year 'International Data Privacy Law'.

In Cybersecurity, 4Chan's Anonymous takes down anti-piracy websites, whilst US Cybersecurity plans lag due to legal and privacy concerns. This is at the same time as the head of the NSA and US cybersecurity chief highlights the importance of privacy. Here's a short article on differing approaches to web censorship, and

In UK politics, there are plans for a crowdsourced map of government public sector budget cuts.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Conferences and calls for papers

Given that I managed to miss the very interesting looking Political Economy of Surveillance conference at the Open University last week, here's a list of three up and coming conferences and calls for papers on surveillance, and surveillance-related topics.

Covert Cultures: Art and the Secret State 1911-1989
4-5th February 2011

The early years of the twentieth century saw the birth of the age of the covert state. Crises of international relations, nationalisms and revolutionary politics led governments to create secret institutions whose activities would long remain hidden from citizens, while those same governments sought through stricter legislation to map and control the flow of their own sensitive information. As the century progressed, espionage and surveillance moved to the centre of popular culture, while real intelligence agencies became more advanced and more powerful, using cultural
production as a weapon in the ideological battles of the Cold War. More recently, covert activity has returned to the public consciousness, with espionage, secret weapons programmes, torture and civil liberties again at the forefront of debates on the conduct of the modern state.

This renewed interest has coincided with the centenary of British intelligence services, and has been well served by the flourishing field of intelligence history. Yet the relation of this new, clandestine world to art has remained relatively under-examined. From the spy novels of the First World War to the CIA’s secret funding of art exhibitions and Encounter magazine in the 1950s, visual art, film and literature have acted in complicity with, as well as in resistance to, the aims of secret state action. This conference – which will take place in the centenary year of the 1911 Official Secrets Act – hopes to investigate the terms on which art and intelligence meet, and the cultural ramifications of that interaction. We invite twenty-minute papers from researchers in the fields of intelligence history, art history, film studies, geography, sociology and English and European literatures.

Topics of discussion will include, but are not limited to:

- Restricted Spaces
- Cultural Complicity and Manipulation
- The Visual Culture of the Secret Services
- Berlin: Intelligence East and West
- Defection
- Torture
- Surveillance
- Spy Fever and Public Paranoia
Submission guidelines: Declarations of interest with an abstract of no more than 300 words, and accompanied by a brief resume, should be sent to the organisers at covertcultures@gmail.com as soon as possible and no later than Friday 29 October 2010. Accepted papers will be announced on Friday 5 November 2010. Finalised papers should be submitted by Friday 7 January 2011 and will be circulated to participants prior to the event. The organisers will also actively solicit papers.

4th International Conference, Computers, Privacy and Data Protection
European Data Protection: In Good Health?
25-27 January 2011

Computers, Privacy and Data Protection – CPDP 2011 is a three-day conference organised by academics coming from all over Europe, with the ambition of becoming Europe’s most important forum for academics, practitioners, policy-makers and civil society where they can meet, exchange ideas and discuss emerging issues of information technology, privacy, data protection and law.

CPDP is organised by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Université de Namur, the Universiteit van Tilburg, the Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique and the Fraunhofer Institut für System und Innovationsforschung.


CPDP has progressively been growing since its inception both in terms of speakers, participants and panels and the ambition for its upcoming fourth consecutive edition is higher than ever. Determined to exceed the positive feedbacks received from speakers and participants, which range from ‘excellent’ to ‘brilliant agenda keeping’, this year’s conference offers twelve panels, a pre-conference, a philosophy reading-panel and a PhD-evening. The previous edition of the PhD evening proved to be one of the most intellectually stimulating moments of the entire conference, with the active participation of key speakers and participants of the conference.

The regular panels include both the presentation of stakeholders’ agenda and intense debates around key issues in the field of privacy, data protection, technology and society. In addition, specific sessions will be dedicated to the issues of e-health, surveillance and law-enforcement, privacy in on-line service models and data breaches notifications. Finally, the philosophical panel will focus on privacy and due process after the computational turn.


The CPDP Scientific Committee invites position and academic papers from PhD students, post-docs and early career researchers in the fields of law, political sciences, social sciences and computer sciences for the PhD evening session, which will take place on 26 January 2011.

Suggested topics include, but are not restricted to:

-Review of the Data Protection Directive (directive 95/46/EC)
-Data Retention
-Behavioural Profiling
-Private Firms’ privacy strategies -Information Security
-Surveillance and Strategies of Counter-Surveillance
-Privacy Advocacy -Data Protection and Law Enforcement
-Ambient Intelligence
-Multidisciplinary Studies in Privacy.

For position papers, authors must send the entire paper and identifying information by 16 November 2010. Notification will be provided by the 15 December 2010.
For full papers, authors must provide a 200-word abstract by 16 November 2010. Notification of acceptance will be provided by 30 November 2010, and accepted full papers are due by 21 December 2010.

Position and academic papers will be peer reviewed by members of the Scientific Committee and other independent reviewers (where necessary). In order to guarantee the process of double-blind review, identifying information should be removed. Please send in a separate Word attachment with the following information: Title, affiliation and author’s name and contact details.

Abstracts, contributions and identifying information should be sent by electronic mail in word documents to Ronald Leenes (Tilburg University) r.e.leenes@uvt.nl

Cyber-Surveillance in Everyday Life: An international workshop
May 12-15, 2011, University of Toronto, Canada

Digitally mediated surveillance (DMS) is an increasingly prevalent, but still largely invisible, aspect of daily life. As we work, play and negotiate public and private spaces, on-line and off, we produce a growing stream of personal digital data of interest to unseen others. CCTV cameras hosted by private and public actors survey and record our movements in public space, as well as in the workplace. Corporate interests track our behaviour as we navigate both social and transactional cyberspaces, data mining our digital doubles and packaging users as commodities for sale to the highest bidder. Governments continue to collect personal information on-line with unclear guidelines for retention and use, while law enforcement increasingly use internet technology to monitor not only criminals but activists and political dissidents as well, with worrisome implications for democracy.

This international workshop brings together researchers, advocates, activists and artists working on the many aspects of cyber-surveillance, particularly as it pervades and mediates social life. This workshop will appeal to those interested in the surveillance aspects of topics such as the following, especially as they raise broader themes and issues that characterize the cyber-surveillance terrain more widely:

  • social networking (practices & platforms)
  • search engines
  • behavioural advertising/targeted marketing
  • monitoring and analysis techniques (facial recognition, RFID, video analytics, data mining)
  • Internet surveillance (deep packet inspection, backbone intercepts)
  • resistance (actors, practices, technologies)

A central concern is to better understand DMS practices, making them more publicly visible and democratically accountable. To do so, we must comprehend what constitutes DMS, delineating parameters for research and analysis. We must further explore the way citizens and consumers experience, engage with and respond to digitally mediated surveillance. Finally, we must develop alliances, responses and counterstrategies to deal with the ongoing creep of digitally mediated surveillance in everyday life.

The workshop adopts a novel structure, mainly comprising a series of themed panels organized to address compelling questions arising around digitally mediated surveillance that cut across the topics listed above. Some illustrative examples:

  1. We regularly hear about ‘cyber-surveillance’, ‘cyber-security’, and ‘cyber-threats’. What constitutes cyber-surveillance, and what are the empirical and theoretical difficulties in establishing a practical understanding of cyber-surveillance? Is the enterprise of developing a definition useful, or condemned to analytic confusion?
  2. What are the motives and strategies of key DMS actors (e.g. surveillance equipment/systems/ strategy/”solutions” providers; police/law enforcement/security agencies; data aggregation brokers; digital infrastructure providers); oversight/regulatory/data protection agencies; civil society organizations, and user/citizens?
  3. What are the relationships among key DMS actors (e.g. between social networking site providers)? Between marketers (e.g. Facebook and DoubleClick)? Between digital infrastructure providers and law enforcement (e.g. lawful access)?
  4. What business models are enterprises pursuing that promote DMS in a variety of areas, including social networking, location tracking, ID’d transactions etc. What can we expect of DMS in the coming years? What new risks and opportunities are likely?
  5. What do people know about the DMS practices and risks they are exposed to in everyday life? What are people’s attitudes to these practices and risks?
  6. What are the politics of DMS; who is active? What are their primary interests, what are the possible lines of contention and prospective alliances? What are the promising intervention points and alliances that can promote a more democratically accountable surveillance?
  7. What is the relationship between DMS and privacy? Are privacy policies legitimating DMS? Is a re-evaluation of traditional information privacy principles required in light of new and emergent online practices, such as social networking and others?
  8. Do deep packet inspection and other surveillance techniques and practices of internet service providers (ISP) threaten personal privacy?
  9. How do new technical configurations promote surveillance and challenge privacy? For example, do cloud computing applications pose a greater threat to personal privacy than the client/server model? How do mobile devices and geo-location promote surveillance of individuals?
  10. How do the multiple jurisdictions of internet data storage and exchange affect the application of national/international data protection laws?
  11. What is the role of advocacy/activist movements in challenging cyber-surveillance?

In conjunction with the workshop there will be a combination of public events on the theme of cyber-surveillance in everyday life:

  • poster session, for presenting and discussing provocative ideas and works in progress
  • public lecture or debate
  • art exhibition/installation(s)

We invite 500 word abstracts of research papers, position statements, short presentations, works in progress, posters, demonstrations, installations. Each abstract should:

  • address explicitly one or more “burning questions” related to digitally-mediated surveillance in everyday life, such as those mentioned above.
  • indicate the form of intended contribution (i.e. research paper, position statement, short presentation, work in progress, poster, demonstration, installation)

The workshop will consist of about 40 participants, at least half of whom will be presenters listed on the published program. Funds will be available to support the participation of representatives of civil society organizations.

Accepted research paper authors will be invited to submit a full paper (~6000 words) for presentation and discussion in a multi-party panel session. All accepted submissions will be posted publicly. A selection of papers will be invited for revision and academic publication in a special issue of an open-access, refereed journal such as Surveillance and Society.

In order to facilitate a more holistic conversation, one that reaches beyond academia, we also invite critical position statements, short presentations, works-in-progress, interactive demonstrations, and artistic interpretations of the meaning and import of cyber-surveillance in everyday life. These will be included in the panel sessions or grouped by theme in concurrent ‘birds-of-a-feather’ sessions designed to tease out, more interactively and informally, emergent questions, problems, ideas and future directions. This BoF track is meant to be flexible and contemporary, welcoming a variety of genres.

See also an accompanying Call for Annotated Bibliographies, aimed at providing background materials useful to workshop participants as well as more widely.



Oct. 1: Abstracts (500 words) for research papers, position statements, and other ‘birds-of-a-feather’ submissions.Nov. 15: Notification to authors of accepted research papers, position statements, etc. Abstracts posted to web.


Feb. 1: Abstracts (500 words) for posters;Mar. 1: Notification to authors of accepted posters;Apr. 1: Full research papers (5-6000 words) due, and posted to web; May 12-15 Workshop

Sponsored by: The New Transparency – Surveillance and Social Sorting.

Organizing Committee: Colin Bennett, Andrew Clement, Kate Milberry & Chris Parsons.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Identity Theft self-help

Came across this kit in the stationary shop today. I've yet to open it and find out what sensible advice it has about sorting out identity theft, but I'm looking forward to it. It had been reduced down to 99p, and there was quite a stack of them available.