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

Coppers and Spooks in cyberspace: une liaison dangereuse

By: Douwe Korff , Emeritus Professor of International Law


The theory: “The same freedoms online as offline”

The Digital Enlightenment Forum is based on the belief, also expressed numerous times in international instruments and declarations, that “people should enjoy the same autonomy and rights and freedoms online that they do offline”. We also generally subscribe to the ideas that individuals should first and foremost be subject to the laws and mores of the country where they live, provided that those laws and mores accord with international human rights standards – that states should refrain from interfering in other states and should generally not apply their laws extraterritorially; but that, conversely, violations of public international law or international human rights law are a legitimate concern of the whole international community.

However, these mantras are not reflected in the responses of many states – including states that often portray themselves as the main advocates of human rights and international law – to “bad” actions in cyberspace. Worse, the excessive and unlawful online behaviour of certain state agencies increasingly also informs their behaviour offline.

This blog simply tries to list the issues involved, to help the debate. Continue reading

The demise of society threatens our privacy

Societal concerns are increasingly left to the marketplace to resolve. We no longer discuss and prioritise societal issues in a dialogue with society as a whole. We no longer share, discuss, or build a vision on long term solutions to the problems that we face. They are no longer solved at the (super)national level, by imposing laws or regulations, or creating economic incentives through grants or tax rules. Instead we rely on the concerns and personal choices of individual citizens to create societal change, in the hope that individual decisions in ‘the marketplace’ will create such change as some kind of emergent behaviour.
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Pulchinella revisited

Do you want to know a secret?
Do you want to know a secret?

There are two reasons why I decided to repost this article from my private blog here at DEF. One is that I just discovered that Emilio Mordini is a fellow member of DEF, so I may get to see him again sometime soon and swap memories of EIC 2011, where I first heard him tell the story of Pulchinella’s famous secret. The other is that Kaspersky Labs announced today that they have found out that NSA has been embedding spyware for years in the firmware of computers. If true, it means that we must assume no computer in the world is safe from snooping, since virus scanners can’t see into the persistent memories of PCs where the firmware lives.

Who would have thought, as Emilio would probably ask with a typical Italian shrug of the shoulders. And more importantly: What does this mean for IT security, privacy and lots of other stuff  we here at DEF concern ourselves with. That said, here’s the post in full:

The European Identity Conference EIC, which recently ended here in Munich, had many highlights, but for me personally the very best was the keynote by the Italian psychologist Dr. Emilio Mordini, CEO of the Centre for Science, Society and Citizenship CSSC in Rome, which he describes as a leading independent research centre specializing in advice on political, ethical and social issues raised by emerging technologies. His topic was “Secrecy in the Post Wikileaks Era“, in itself a fascinating subject, but where it got really entertaining and thought-provoking was when he turned to the subject of the „segreto di Pulcinella“, or Pulchinella Secrets.

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EP Draft Surveillance report

The Dutch Member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake states:

Technologies can help advance human rights such as access to information and freedom of expression. Yet, too many surveillance and intrusion technologies are being produced in Europe and sold to enable human rights violations. We need smart regulation to ensure we facilitate the protection of rights, and not their violation

By sharing the draft report and opening it up for public input, Schaake is calling on “anyone from hackers to journalists, activists to lawyers” to share their input.

Deadline 16 March. DEF will collect the comments on this post before that date and send a DEF commentary.