Thursday, May 19, 2016

Seminar 6 Yvonne McDermott Position Statement

Developing a Unified Concept of Privacy Law

My position statement for Seminar 1 adopted the standpoint of the (common) law in England and Wales on the right to privacy, and examined how this interplays with sousveillant practices. We discussed in that seminar how the case law on privacy, especially with regards to the relatively new tort of ‘misuse of private information’, has largely been a question of how the rich and famous can protect details of their private lives from unwanted press interference. This is highlighted once again by the recent spate of celebrity injunctions. Yet, this series of seminars has illustrated the different disciplinary understandings of privacy, and how even within the law, different spheres of law protect quite distinct interests under the umbrella of ‘privacy’, with seemingly little interplay between them. As a result, clear gaps in legal protection have arisen through our discussions over the course of the series, including:

Data Protection Law: A number of speakers in Seminar 5, in particular, discussed how information gathered from smart technology falls outside the remit of traditional ‘data’ protected under data protection legislation. Following the Schrems judgment, a new draft ‘Privacy Shield’ has been developed for the transfer of information between the EU and US, but a leaked document from the Article 29 Working Party revealed continued concerns about whether the agreement guaranteed the fundamental protections required to comply with EU standards
Human Rights Law: Speakers across several seminars have analysed the rights of individuals vs. the interests of state security. However, we can see from the Snowdon leaks and related revelations that surveillance stretches far beyond  traditional notions of surveillance, and encompasses mass collection of data, including (if the new Investigatory Powers Bill is passed) bulk interception and acquisition of communications data. The European Court of Human Rights has clearly stated that the interception of communications must be specifically targeted, limited in duration, and that there must be a reasonable suspicion that the person targeted has committed or is about to commit a crime. These principles are not (yet?) incorporated into the new Bill.
Private/Tort Law: This relates specifically to the type of information to which a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’ would attach, and thus generally would not encompass, for example, such information as an individual’s location – this again raises issues on the interplay between new technology and legal standards. 

The  confusion about what we mean when we talk about privacy, even from one disciplinary (legal) perspective, highlights one of the main challenges that we face in attempting to communicate some of this project’s key findings and recommendations to a broader (non-specialist) audience. The report by DATA-PSST and DCSS showed that the public (at least the population of under-60s) seemed to link the notion of privacy as most closely relating to state surveillance of communications data, as opposed to their right to privacy vis-à-vis fellow citizens, in this era of ‘forced transparency’.

Seminar 6 Dyfrig Jones Position Statement

Conceiving the DATA-PSST! Documentary

Dyfrig Jones

Bangor University

Over almost two years, we have discussed a huge range of issues related to privacy and the use of data, bringing together a broad sweep of theoretical perspectives. As we approach the end of the DATA-PSST! series, the production of a short documentary film presents a number of challenges. Simply reflecting the opinions expressed during the seminars would, I suspect, be a relatively easy task. Interviews would be arranged with key participants, sound-bites elicited, and the whole thing could be tied together with shots of us deep in discussion. Such a film would do little more than tick a box, however. It would be a vanity piece, a mirror in which we could see ourselves at our cleverest and most interesting – but of little interest to anyone else.

From the outset, DATA-PSST has sought to engage with non-academics who have an interest in this field. The aim of the film is to expand this circle further, not only drawing in policy-makers and opinion formers, but also the general public. Co-ordinating the work, and taking it from concept to screen is my responsibility, but the film should be a collective endeavour. To try and steer me in the right direction, I would appreciate it if we could, during this final seminar, briefly discuss some of the following questions:

·       What are the key ideas that need to be expressed? How do we distil five days of discussion into ten minutes of film, without being (overly) reductive?

·       How can these ideas be turned into narratives? Good documentaries usually show, rather than tell.  Think about the real-world implications of your ideas, and how these can be put on screen.

·       How will this work visually? We need to avoid being overly reliant on interviews; this should be more than series of position statements in video form.

·       How do we appeal to the general public? What will make people share this video with their friends?

Seminar 6 Ronan Devlin Position Statement


Ronan Devlin


a data art collaboration with:

vian bakir, ant dickinson, carwyn edwards, michael flückiger, gillian jein & jamie woodruff

Our technologies watch us. Digital devices track our everyday actions, communications and purchases in both real and virtual realms. This information mapping is employed by governments to monitor activity, and corporations to target and manipulate the public via ‘smart’ advertising techniques. 

Working in opposition to this invisible information capture, Veillance is a web application artwork which renders these territories of data surveillance as a real-time typographic map of individual and collective audience experience. Referencing ‘cut up’ writing techniques and Concrete (or shape) Poetry, the work’s data-scraping and visualisation system continually transforms audience information, which is transparently gathered with clear consent, into real-time poetic narratives. The result is an ever-expanding rhizomatic structure woven from interconnected audience experience.

This information environment may be experienced and navigated through from various perspectives. From a microscopic position the audience member follows a moving pathway of real-time self generated typographic assemblages, with accompanied text-to-speech sound. From a macroscopic vantage point the traveler perceives the ‘datasphere’ as a whole and may view and engage with text clusters generated by other participants in the expansive, chattering typographic constellation. 

With audience information as its medium, the artwork aims to invite experimentation with, and questions ownership of, the data we generate. The project seeks to re-assert our roles as (creative) producers of information as opposed to subservient consumers or targets, recognizing the virtual realm as a living environment we co-habit. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Seminar 6 Andrew McStay Position Statement

Approaching DATA-PSST! as an Ad Man (Creative Briefs)

Andrew McStay

Creative Studies & Media, Bangor University

In her blogpost, Vian Bakir identified key policy recommendations from past seminars that we could develop in Seminar 6. For my position statement, I have drawn upon these documents and my former life as an “Ad Man”. (As I write this, the title of Jacques Seguela’s 1979 book comes to mind: Please don’t tell my mother I work in advertising, tell her I play the piano in a brothel.)

What we have below are two “creative briefs”. Used within ad agencies to help steer the direction of a communications campaign, the writer of creative briefs collates meaningful information supplied by a client, and research conducted by an ad agency, and translates this into one short document (or two in our case).

The reason for two is that the DATAPSST policy recommendations focus on engaging both citizens and policy makers connected with signals intelligence. These are two very different audiences. These communities require different objectives, strategies, communications approaches and modes of post-campaign engagement.

Feel free to comment, post disagreements and, where relevant, I’ll incorporate and re-post the briefs.

Name of Agency DATA-PSST!
Date 19/05/16

Media requirements
Creative team to select.
Production budget
Since 2014 the DATA-PSST! seminar series has heard from experts from multiple academic disciplines, regulators, business, NGOs and artists. It has explored and debated a range of topics surrounding the fact that mediated life is becoming more transparent to security agencies, commercial actors and each other. The focus has often been on the security side of the equation. We found that unlike the UK government, the British public sees bulk data collection as constituting mass surveillance and that the European and British public care about this. The picture is nuanced as they recognise that certain surveillance technologies are useful for combating national security threats, but there is scope to compromise human rights. Collectively the public want targeted rather than blanket surveillance, clear communications to citizens about what is going on, and strong regulatory oversight.

Target audience
Members of the British public who harbour disquiet about surveillance but do not understand what is taking place.
To tell the public in clear but engaging terms, what is going on when their data is surveilled, and how this is surveillance is overseen.
Consumer insight
Evidence from all industry, academic and independent public opinion polls show that people wish to have greater control over their data.
The proposition
Be in control by being aware
Desired response
For people to be emboldened, informed, entertained and willing to share communication with peers.
Reason(s) to believe
An aware citizenry is the most powerful force in a democracy. If they want change, reform or more transparency over surveillance practices, all they have to do is collectively demand it.
Tone of voice
Expression is more powerful than paternalistic description: the emphasis is on showing in interesting ways rather than telling.
Executional considerations/mandatories
Budget is a consideration so the campaign will need to be shareable throughout social networks.

Name of Agency DATA-PSST!
Date 19/05/16

Media requirements
Creative team to select.
Production budget
Since 2014 the DATA-PSST! seminar series has heard from experts from multiple academic disciplines, regulators, business, NGOs and artists. It has explored and debated a range of topics surrounding the fact that mediated life is becoming more transparent to security agencies, commercial actors and each other. The focus has often been on the security side of the equation. Mindful of the balance between security and liberty, DATA-PSST! recommend greater transparency, albeit with opacity built-in to protect necessary secrets. They also suggest periodical review of all stages of the data process, and of the effectiveness of policies based on such surveillance, by diverse actors drawn from citizens, civil liberties groups, technologists and industry. Promotion of data literacy and reasons for specific data are also encouraged to help generate awareness, trust and conceivably consensus.

Target audience
Policy makers connected with national security and signals intelligence.
To tell policy makers that opaque awareness of signals intelligence practices will serve citizens and security agencies alike.
Consumer insight
The intelligence community argues for a dualistic position whereby some liberty must be sacrificed to ensure security. They may be reciprocal to a third option.
The proposition
Work together towards opaque transparency.
Desired response
For the intelligence community to understand that collective enlightenment facilitates trust and serves citizens and security alike.
Reason(s) to believe
The British public harbour a strong wish to have control over data about them, yet also understand the need for some surveillance of online communication.
Tone of voice
Confrontation is to be avoided. A solutions oriented approach is preferred.
Executional considerations/mandatories

Seminar 6 Vian Bakir Position Statement

Engaging Publics and Policy-Makers on core DATA-PSST! Issues

 Vian Bakir

Professor of Political Communication & Journalism, Bangor University

Drawing on this seminar series’ policy recommendations, experience of this seminar series and subject expertise, we asked participants in this final DATA-PSST! seminar to reflect on what they think the general public and policy-makers most need to know; why they need to know this; and how these messages can be creatively and feasibly communicated.

What do the general public most need to know?

Seminar 2 concluded that ‘Given the many conflicting opinion polls and studies conducted since Snowden, a definitive analysis is needed on public perceptions of intelligence, surveillance, oversight and accountability.’

We took this challenge on and published, in 2015, Public Feeling on Privacy, Security and Surveillance - A Report by DATA-PSST and DCSS. This is a synthesis of opinion polls on state and commercial surveillance, and of EU-wide citizen summits on trade-offs between security and privacy conducted by the project on Surveillance, Privacy and Security (SurPRISE). This produced the following observations:

-        Unlike the UK government, the British public sees bulk data collection as constituting mass surveillance.

-        The topics of UK state surveillance of digital communications and online privacy matter to the British, and wider EU public. This is confirmed by opinion poll data since 2013 and in-depth studies.

-        The EU and UK public think that although certain surveillance technologies are useful/effective for combating national security threats, they compromise human rights and are abused by security agencies. These concerns especially apply to deep packet inspection.

-         There are identifiable criteria for what makes security-oriented surveillance technologies acceptable for EU publics. Targeted rather than blanket surveillance is preferred, as are clear communications to citizens about what is going on, with strong regulatory oversight.

Various recommendations emerged, but perhaps the most important is that:
‘governments seeking a popular mandate for digital surveillance should ensure that such surveillance is targeted rather than blanket, accompanied by strong regulatory oversight and clear communications to citizens about what is going on.’

From this, we can conclude that the public needs to know, in clear terms, what is going on when their data is surveilled, and how this is surveillance is overseen. This would be the first stage in enabling them to make informed decisions on whether they are OK with such surveillance, and if not, what they can do about it.

This recommendation feeds into the second question set for this seminar: what do policy-makers most need to know?

What do policy-makers most need to know?

A constellation of policy recommendations from the past five DATA-PSST! seminars converge on the same two points, both revolving around what citizens want: namely, better oversight of surveillant entities (i.e.intelligence agencies and commercial firms); and better communication of what is going on:

      On better oversight of surveillant entities, Policy Recommendations include:
-        We recommend a particular form of transparency – with opacity built in to protect necessary secrets, but with regular and periodical review of all stages of the data process by diverse actors drawn from citizenry, civil liberties groups, technologists, industry and of course intelligence agencies. (Seminar 5)
-        To improve oversight, and trust in this process, independent members of the public should be able to contribute to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. (Seminar 2)
-        We suggest greater transparency about data collection and processing, and about the effectiveness of policies based on such surveillance. (Seminar 5)
-        More accountability, not only transparency, concerning the actions of the state and secret-services is needed if public trust is to be rebuilt. (Seminar 3)
-        At policy-making level, participants recommend that: the government’s definition of its targets and who extremists are needs to be much more narrow; and selling surveillance technologies to non-democratic states must be regulated with better monitoring. (Seminar 3)
-        There needs to be meaningful review of the oversight for surveillance in the UK as well as greater openness regarding the systems in place to ensure targeting is carried out in a way that protects minorities and respects free speech and civil/human rights. We must target incitement and planning of violent activities. However, extreme views are not illegal. (Seminar 2)

     On better communication of what is going on, Policy Recommendations include:
-        We suggest that the aims of any governmental or commercial surveillant organisation involved in data collection and processing are publicly articulated more fully and clearly. They should provide more detail than blanket terms such as ‘protecting national security’, and more meaningful clarity than complex Terms and Conditions and associated tick-boxes of consent and compliance. (Seminar 5)
-        For these aims to be better understood within society we suggest the need for greater public engagement by surveillant entities with citizens. This would help generate challenges, dialogue and perhaps even consensus and greater trust.  (Seminar 5)
-        The public needs more digital and data literacy. As an ethical starting point, governments should more fully share with the public what their capacities to surveil are. The public needs to understand the surveillant black boxes that pervade everyday life, and what it gives up if it withholds data from commercial surveillers. We need a public debate involving mainstream media on whether we are able to understand these abstract surveillant processes. (Seminar 4)
-        More education and a better quality public debate (eg in the media) are required to inform the public on matters of surveillance and national security. The complexity of the issue makes it difficult to explain, and we need to find ways of making these issues both clearer and more relevant for a general public, bearing in mind that social change can happen through ‘agitators’ creating a better debate. (Seminar 3)

This seminar’s third question is on how these messages can be creatively and feasibly communicated.

How can these messages be creatively and feasibly communicated?

Specifically addressing communication of some of the messages above, Andrew McStay, drawing on his expertise in advertising and privacy, has initiated a creative advertising brief for seminar participants to consider.

In terms of how to engage creatively and feasibly with a range of users, we have a range of highly innovative ideas in this seminar’s Positions Statements.  For instance, reflecting the inter-disciplinary focus of DATA-PSST! some focus on explaining these abstract, complex ideas and processes to students reading very different types of university degree. Yuwei Lin explains how she has been encouraging data literacy, especially knowledge of big data, privacy and surveillance with her arts and design students at University for the Creative Arts. Lachlan Urqhuart explains his innovative ‘data protection by design’ playing cards developed at the University of Nottingham. These help computer designers and engineers explore the unfamiliar or challenging issues of forthcoming EU Data Protection law, so moving the principle of data protection by design from theory into practice.

More broadly reflecting on the creative tensions and opportunities when theory is married with practice, Clare Birchall asks what media form is best suited to disseminating the outcomes from a seminar series on transparency, surveillance and privacy. She urges us to think about the role and limits of revelation in public life and to experiment with media forms to highlight the problematics inherent in the ‘objects’ we study. An exemplary practice here is her colloquium on the politics and practices of secrecy. Reflecting also on the political economy of media forms, she further urges us to adopt ethical publishing practices.
Whatever we decide in this seminar, there should be some interesting outcomes. Watch this space!