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.

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