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Internet Privacy

A fair data marketplace for all

Siddhartha Raja's picture
Credit: Kentoh/Shutterstock
Billions of people around the world are barely aware of their participation in a trillion-dollar data market. Its growth and impact has been accelerated by the easier flow, storage, and analysis of data—thanks to rapid advances in digital technology combined with falling costs of computing. The global data economy is estimated to be worth more than US$3 trillion; the European Commission believes that personalized data was worth over EUR 300 billion by 2016. The application of personal data for online advertising is also skyrocketing with the internet surpassing television as the leading advertising channel. Two internet giants—Facebook and Google—have combined digital advertising revenues on par with the gross domestic product (GDP) of Morocco.
 
This marketplace is reshaping how people interact with and use information, leading to new opportunities. Yet, it confronts these people and policymakers alike with new questions of the trade-offs between privacy, convenience, and access to information.
 
In chapter 4 of our latest Information and Communications for Development report, we started to frame what this marketplace (or places) might look like. We sought to understand what the costs and benefits were for people—the producers of much the data, the most valued commodity in this new economy. We tried to abstract from the now almost (worryingly regular) news of leaks and hacks to get a better sense of what might be ways to think about public policies that lead to a more balanced and fair data marketplace. We thought about the opportunities and the risks that are emerging, but also about what might be ways to make data marketplaces fairer in their functioning.

Media (R)evolutions: Majority of global citizens are concerned about a lack of privacy online, according to survey

Roxanne Bauer's picture

New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.

Individuals are increasingly concerned about their online privacy and security‚ especially regarding ‎how private corporations and governments use and share their personal data, according to the 2016 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust, commissioned by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and conducted by global research company Ipsos.  

A clear majority of global citizens are concerned (79%) that their personal data is available and monitored online. Even more (83%) believe that there need to be new rules about how companies‚ governments and other users use personal data, and 85% believe their government should work in closely with other governments and organizations to ensure better Internet security and safety.

However, the results of the survey also find that most individuals (70%) approve of law enforcement accessing private online conversations if they have national security reasons to do so, and if they are investigating someone suspected of a crime, 85% responded that governments should be able to find out who their suspects are communicating with online.

More contentious is the idea of whether companies should be allowed to develop technologies that prevent law enforcement from accessing the content of an individual’s online conversations. On this issue, 63% agree that companies should not develop this technology.

The following graph is just one of many presented in the survey’s findings. It demonstrates that most are concerned that too much of their personal information is available online, leading to worries about privacy. Moreover, similar numbers of people are concerned that they are being actively monitored online by governments or other organizations.

Source: 2016 CIGI-Ipsos Global Survey on Internet Security and Trust

Information is power: Silvio Waisbord on how digital technology changes the public sphere and notions of privacy

Roxanne Bauer's picture
How do digital media affect traditional theories of the “public sphere” and power? Are we living in a modern-day panopticon?

The notion of the “public sphere” is useful worldwide to consider how citizens can and do articulate demands to the market or to states. The public sphere is generally conceived as a place (figurative or literal) in which citizens can share information, debate issues and opinions, and restrain the interests of the powerful elite. This space is critical to the formation of public will and the transmission of it to official authorities.

In contrast, the Panopticon is a design for a prison or jail which allows watchmen to observe all inmates at all times without the inmates knowing whether they are being observed or not.  The idea has been used to discuss online privacy, as individuals are often unaware of how governments and companies collect and use the information they gather about them online.  Moreover, the revelation that governments and companies work together to “spy” on citizens, as revealed by Edward Snowden revived the concern that a modern-day panopticon might be possible.   

But these concepts raise another important question: How can the public sphere, which aims to limit excess power, continue to function if the state is monitoring citizen activity?  Much of the information that is collected and tracked online is willingly shared by individuals as they search the internet, use mobile apps, and contact friends and family. This activity is vital to the future of a public sphere around the world, but it also allows governments and companies to intrude in our private lives.

Silvio Waisbord explores these two evergreen, yet very immediate concerns. He argues that while digital technologies have improved the capacities of states and companies to track human activity, digital media can also be used for democratic purposes. 
 
The modern public sphere vs. The online panopticon

Conflict of interest: Global internet privacy trends

Roxanne Bauer's picture
The internet, and mobile internet in particular, continue to expand across the developed and developing world – on a scale which is too large and diffuse to control. While this brings greater connectivity to large masses of people, it also has serious implications for the security and privacy of personal data.
 
Companies increasingly use cloud based services and operate across national boundaries, with servers in multiple national jurisdictions. This is because users want to be able to access their data from any device, which effectively requires data and applications to be housed on a cloud-based server. The rise of mobile devices has further exacerbated consumer demand for cloud connectivity.  Moreover, privacy laws vary significantly across different national jurisdictions; global companies often receive information in one country and then process it in a different country with a different regulatory framework. Thus, in a globalized world it becomes ever more challenging to ensure standards of privacy are upheld.
 
Concurrently, national governments seek to obtain and exploit the personal information stored on servers and personal devices for purposes of national security. At times, they compel companies to release personal data. It’s also interesting—and perhaps frightening— that open source intelligence statistical techniques are able to collect, correlate and triangulate data to identify previously anonymous information.

Claire Connelly, a journalist specialising in privacy and technology, from Sydney, Australia outlines some of the key global trends she sees unfolding around the world.
 
Conflict of interest: Global Internet Privacy Trends