The post-digital social contract part 3 of 3

Restore balance and reclaim personal data

  1. The major actors – digital corporations and governments – need a haystack to find a needle.[i] They use a three step process to do this: (1) Create and adapt models with inference engine and rules; (2) Apply the model to data and match individuals to groups; (3) Take actions based on the matching, observe the results and tune the model.[ii] The more data, the better the model.
  2. The old school design approach to controlling this surveillance is to ask questions like: What are the rules? What are the consent points? Where are consents held? What are the defaults (opt-in or opt-out)? What are the obligations to the individual? How are those obligations met and monitored? How are obligations passed between actors? Can we regulate personal data markets? Should controls be centralized or distributed? What are the incentives? How do we resource enforcement?
  3. This old school design will not work.   Continue reading

The post-digital social contract part 2 of 3

The personal data ecosystem: Out of Trust, Out of Control

1. The pre-digital social contract was straightforward: I chose to disclose my secrets to others based on the level of trust in our relationship. I chose to reveal personal data when the value I got was more than the risk of something bad, based on the integrity of the other party.

2. Trust has been reduced by ubiquitous sensors and monitoring (such as mobile phone location sensing, CCTV with face recognition, and embedded systems[i]), people choosing to be “always on”, and the power of big data analytics to bring together data from different sources. In a post-digital world we have no ability to assess the integrity of those making judgments on our personal data.

3. Trust can be restored by integrity, reputation, and transparency – qualities that are increasingly absent in public world.[ii] The power and knowledge asymmetry breaks personal trust. So we must think laterally about how to rebalance the asymmetry. Continue reading

The post-digital social contract (part 1 of 3)

Part 1 We can’t put the genie back, the bottles have gone

  1. The pre-digital social contract operated at a community, regional and national level. It consisted of agreements on acceptable behavior between individuals, governments, companies and communities. This social contract is broken; broken by the internet and technology, globalization, neo-liberal economics, and “the war on terror”.
  2. The post-digital social contract is being created in real time by the actions of governments and digital corporations[i] based on massive asymmetries of power, knowledge and money. The result will be a single post digital social contract for the planet.
  3. The power asymmetry is never going to go away – between government and the individual, and between digital corporations and the individual. To argue that surveillance by these powerful actors should be controlled and subject to “informed consent” is flawed.
  4. Continue reading