Privacy

Video of #TA3M Talk on ISOC-NY

The New York Chapter of the Internet Society recorded and posted my “Dataveillance and Everyday Consciousness in the ‘Smart’ City” lecture from May’s Techno-Activism Third Monday event in NYC. Big thanks to Joly MacFie!

Doing Participatory Research and Pedagogy in Proprietary Educational Environments

This Saturday (10/13/12) I’ll be presenting with Kiersten Greene at Northwestern University’s InfoSocial Conference. Info and abstract below:

Title: Doing Participatory Research and Pedagogy in Proprietary Educational Environments
Authors: Gregory T. Donovan & Kiersten Greene

Panel: Participation, Socialization, and Memory Online
Discussant: Prof. Kevin Barnhurst, University of Illinois at Chicago

Time: 10/13/12, 3:15PM – 4:45PM
Place: Annie May Swift Hall, room 102

Abstract: The ubiquity of proprietary technologies embedded within informational modes of pedagogy and research unsettles industrial understandings of privacy and property within educational environments. As educational institutions commit a growing portion of shrinking budgets to proprietary software and outsourced ICT services, their informational infrastructure intertwines with corporations from Google and Blackboard to IBM and Apple. We offer a multi-disciplinary analysis of this proprietary infrastructure, drawing on our respective dissertation research in the fields of Urban Education and Environmental Psychology, to articulate issues of privacy and property experienced by young people and teachers in these educational environments. We begin by summarizing the findings from two independent cases: The MyDigitalFootprint.ORG Project and The NYC Teacher Blog Project. Our first case, MyDigitalFootprint.ORG, is a participatory action design research (PADR) project interested in the concerns of young people developing in proprietary information ecologies. This project began by interviewing young people ages 14-19 in New York City to identify shared online privacy, property, and security concerns. A collective of youth co-researchers was then assembled to further research and take action in response to these concerns through the development of a youth-based open source social network. Through this PADR project, young people participated in investigating and reconfiguring how information is experienced in their everyday environment. Our second case, The NYC Teacher Blog Project, aggregates, stores, and anonymizes the blog posting of New York City teachers for qualitative analysis in order to examine the tension between the realities of everyday pedagogical practices and the tacit privatization of educational policy. Whether at the federal, state, or local levels, teachers’ opinions, local knowledge, and expertise count for naught in the policymaking process as K-12 public school teachers are provided little if any voice in the construction of education policy. The traditional isolation of the teaching environment has provided teachers with little opportunity to connect, reflect, or engage with this process. Yet, as our everyday information infrastructure grows so to do opportunities for teacher expression and research. Blogs have proven an enduring aspect of this infrastructure by providing a space where teachers can reflect, connect, and share local knowledge. We conclude our review of these two cases by discussing strategies for reworking educational boundaries, relationships, and flows towards the privacy, property, and participation concerns of young people and teachers. With the MyDigitalFootprint.ORG Project, we look specifically at the open source software and PADR methods employed to engage young people as producers of social media and participants in social research, rather than as social media consumers and social research subjects. With the NYC Teacher Blog Project, we look specifically at how its partnership with the OpenCUNY Academic Medium, a student-based open source medium at the CUNY Graduate Center, afforded both methodological and epistemological breakthroughs around teacher privacy and property in educational environments.

Tweet

@gdonovan: #Facebook ends #facialrecognition in Europe after EU #privacy investigation, but keeps #surveillance practice in US http://t.co/67zP9Hgx

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@gdonovan: AP Exclusive: #Romney uses secretive #datamining to identify wealthy donors #bigdata #privacy #citizensunited http://t.co/udyWEoiv

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@gdonovan: RT – Urge ur senators to VOTE NO on #CISPA + support #privacy http://t.co/Qcm7XwTx via @demandprogress #surveillance #cybersecurity

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@gdonovan: @pewresearch shows more ppl managing #privacy + #reputation in their SNS … So when will ppl start managing their SNS? http://t.co/TnsP4b5o

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@gdonovan: RT @isocny: VIDEO: Transatlantic Perspectives on Digital Rights and Online Privacy #OnlinePrivacyUS2EU #netfreedom http://t.co/FQOf7HyN

Justice Sotomayor on Digital Surveillance, 3rd Parties, and Societal Expectations of Privacy in Public

In United States v. Jones the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that attaching a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to a vehicle for the purpose of location-tracking constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment. More notable than the unanimity of this decision, is that the majority opinion was premised on the fact that the federal government physically trespassed on Antoine Jones’ private property (his car) in order to install the GPS — leaving open the question of whether such surveillance would have been legal had the government not physically installed a tracking device. To this end, United States v. Jones raises more questions than it answers regarding the legality (and morality) of surveillance in everyday information environments. Governments, corporations, and individuals do not need to physically enter your house, your desk, or tap your phone line, to gain access to the multitude of personal information that flows through your everyday environment, and beyond.

In separate concurring opinions, Justice Alito and Justice Sotomayor both problematize the majority opinion’s focus on “physical intrusion,” yet only Sotomayor’s concurring opinion offers a consideration of the interests and concerns of U.S. citizens who currently exist in what is, at least to them, a largely mystified and little understood information environment. As Sotomayor argues in her concurring opinion:

Awareness that the Government may be watching chills associational and expressive freedoms. And the Government’s unrestrained power to assemble data that reveal private aspects of identity is susceptible to abuse. The net result is that GPS monitoring—by making available at a relatively low cost such a substantial quantum of intimate information about any person whom the Government, in its unfettered discretion, chooses to track—may “alter the relationship between citizen and government in a way that is inimical to democratic society.”

I would take these attributes of GPS monitoring into account when considering the existence of a reasonable societal expectation of privacy in the sum of one’s public movements. I would ask whether people reasonably expect that their movements will be recorded and aggregated in a manner that enables the Government to ascertain, more or less at will, their political and religious beliefs, sexual habits, and so on.

Sotomayor’s focus on “a reasonable societal expectation of privacy in the sum of one’s public movements” is important as it’s quite clear that society is not aware of the extent to which they’re being tracked, nor is there a social consensus on what constitutes ‘being in public.’ In my own research I’ve consistently found that when young people learn about the most basic ways that their personal information is being aggregated, they begin to articulate more sophisticated privacy concerns alongside a general amazement that such surveillance is actually happening — legally — in what they think of as private places: their facebook profile, their email, their texts, and so on.

Sotomayor concludes this point by arguing that society expects more privacy than it currently has in the digital age, and calls for a decoupling of secrecy and privacy in order to develop more situated and accurate judicial understandings of when and where people expect privacy:

More fundamentally, it may be necessary to reconsider the premise that an individual has no reasonable expectation of privacy in information voluntarily disclosed to third parties … This approach is ill suited to the digital age, in which people reveal a great deal of information about themselves to third parties in the course of carrying out mundane tasks. People disclose the phone numbers that they dial or text to their cellular providers; the URLs that they visit and the e-mail addresses with which they correspond to their Internet service providers; and the books, groceries, and medications they purchase to online retailers. Perhaps, as Justice Alito notes, some people may find the “tradeoff” of privacy for convenience “worthwhile,” or come to accept this “diminution of privacy” as “inevitable,” and perhaps not. I for one doubt that people would accept without complaint the warrantless disclosure to the Government of a list of every Web site they had visited in the last week, or month, or year. But whatever the societal expectations, they can attain constitutionally protected status only if our Fourth Amendment jurisprudence ceases to treat secrecy as a prerequisite for privacy. I would not assume that all information voluntarily disclosed to some member of the public for a limited purpose is, for that reason alone, disentitled to Fourth Amendment protection.

Lessig on Architectures of Control

Lawrence Lessig on the need to build protections for privacy and autonomy into the internet’s architecture. From CODE 2.0, p45 (emphasis mine):

[The end-to-end principle] has been a core principle of the Internet’s architecture, and, in my view, one of the most important reasons that the Internet produced the innovation and growth that it has enjoyed. But its consequences for purposes of identification and authentication make both extremely difficult with the basic protocols of the Internet alone. It is as if you were in a carnival funhouse with the lights dimmed to darkness and voices coming from around you, but from people you do not know and from places you cannot identify. The system knows that there are entities out there interacting with it, but it knows nothing about who those entities are. While in real space —and here is the important point—anonymity has to be created, in cyberspace anonymity is the given.

This difference in the architectures of real space and cyberspace makes a big difference in the regulability of behavior in each. The absence of relatively self-authenticating facts in cyberspace makes it extremely difficult to regulate behavior there … We ’re far enough into this history to see that the trend toward this authentication is unstoppable. The only question is whether we will build into this system of authentication the kinds of protections for privacy and autonomy that are needed.

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