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Posts Tagged ‘liberty

PositionDial is anonymous – if you want it to be.

Last night I attended an excellent event hosted by Involve at the University of Westminster – entitled ‘Technology and Democratic Participation – friend or foe.’

Involve

A point well made by Catherine Howe was on paying attention to the architectural layer, not just the application layer. And the ‘why.’ Including the choices we make about identity as we build opportunities to participate online.

I have spoken and written on the importance of anonymity and flexible identities online many times, and this is very much built into PositionDial‘s architecture.

PositionDial helps you work out where you stand, see who matches you, and explore the issues you care about. We have several levels of identity on site (and are at this moment building an even more super-secure identity system for y’all):

  • Anonymous – you can use PositionDial, and get your PositionDial, without registering with us or logging in. We use cookies to remember you and help you build your dial as you browse from page to page. But we don’t store your IP address. So there’s no way of us storing your activity or your PositionDial with your location or identity once you close your browser window.
  • Pseudonymous – You can register with any username you like / or Twitter – we don’t force you to use your full, real name
  • Full name – but if you don’t mind, we’d love you to know your real name. We’ll only use it for keeping in touch and making  PositionDial better for you.

Transparency is the only way

There’s a lot of valid, and invalid concern about data sharing and privacy on social media and discovery sites. Transparency is of course the best and the only way to handle this.

For our part, PositionDial offers agencies, charities, businesses and others analytics and insight into where their target customers, stakeholders and partners stand on important issues (we strongly believe this is win:win, if ‘they’ know better, they can do better for all of us). These analytics are based on aggregated, anonymised social PositionDials, and aggregated action PositionDials (from data about MP voting and companies etc. which is already public).

In other words, we would never, and have no reason to, share any personally identifiable data about you.

Furthermore, as stipulated in our privacy policy, we would, as Twitter and others have done before, closely interrogate and strenuously resist outside requests to access your data.

You also have the right to be forgotten (by us). That is, seriously, even if you’ve signed up and got your PositionDial and it’s all saved nice and neatly in our system. If you want out, we’ll delete you. Simples.

Image credit: Triple Pundit

Reposted from PositionDial’s blog

Authoritarian governments are increasingly aiming to control images and control information getting out of their countries. One of the strategies they use are cyber assaults and this is when they focus on attacking activists online… Women face a specific threat online and off-line because certainly a lot of the cyber-attacks try to defame them and dishonour them, accusing them of being prostitutes or other culturally relevant threats. 

 Courtney Radsch via Kate Russell

Last weekend I took part in a Cambridge Festival of Ideas panel discussion on whether we are being ‘sold online’ alongside Michal Kosinski of Cambridge University, Professor Bill Dutton of the Oxford Internet Institute and Nick Pickles of Big Brother Watch.

During this I proposed that practitioners who deal with collecting, processing, analysing and sharing social media data can operate according to a simple principle, to weight privacy in favour of individuals, and transparency towards institutions. For indeed, such responsible data dealing is essential for attaining and retaining trust in 21st century institutions…


Delving further into what this means in practice I put forward the following framework, which can be used by marketers to clearly document and ask questions of social data usage:

Best Practice Data Dealers Recipe Card

Note: my recipe card is loosely based on Tony Benn’s five questions to power

Simply, I have been trained to see the world in terms of what I can post to the Internet. I’ve learned to live and present a life that is “likeable” … The tail of Facebook documentation has come to wag the dog of lived experience

Nathan Jurgenson

People with enough privileges don’t have to worry about their public identities and reputations, but marginalized or vulnerable people around the world face real danger for speaking out online. They still need the ability to participate fully. That’s why a truly Web-wide reputation system cannot be subject to any company’s “real names policy.”

We learned in the workshop that the best kind of online identity is one that is pseudonymous but expensive.

Jon Mitchell

Paul Resnick proposed the idea of “expensive pseudonyms” via an identity-issuing authority that could release “once-in-a-lifetime” pseudonyms and protect the real identity of individuals while making it costly for them to forge multiple identities. Kaliya Hamlin, on the other hand, stressed the importance of “Limited Liability Personas” to allow users to keep multiple personas (and their attached reputation values) in different contexts, and allow them to dump a single persona if for any reason it got screwed up (without affecting the reputation of other personas).

Wikipedia report from  Hypothes.is workshop

I’m uninstalling my Facebook for Android app today. Three main reasons:

  1. It continually tells me I have new messages I already read
  2. It is always running however often I use my app killer to shut the damn thing off
  3. It can see where I am, who I am calling, and read my text messages if it wants

I don’t have a problem with anonymised data being used to fund the free exchange of information online by helping marketers to target people efficiently and effectively. But many mobile apps can see and use too much of our personal information and communications as standard. So starting with Facebook I’m taking a stand on this…

Google said: ‘From the beginning, Android has had an industry-leading permissions system which informs consumers what data an app can access and requires users’ approval before installation.’

Tom Kelly

This ‘approval’ comeback completely misses the point… we want the app so we click yes, even if we don’t agree with or understand why it wants access to so much of our mobile data.

I’d suggest as a first step before the law catches up with this problematic area that the Apple App Store and Android Market include a ‘report unnecessary data collection’ button on every app in their collections so that potential users can report that although they want a certain application – they would like to protest at the level of information it has access to.

Some might argue that if we want free apps we need to pay the price by giving over everything about us to unaccountable corporations and institutions. I’d argue that if your business model depends on intruding upon people’s private lives to the extent of needing to know where they are all the time and who they are calling the world can do without your sociopathic stalker-esque enterprise. Seriously.

some [Facebook] users with many subscribers will be notified through their profile of the option to verify their identity… There’s no way to volunteer to be verified, you have to be chosen. These users will be prompted to submit an image of a government-issued photo ID, which is deleted after verification. They’ll also be given the option to enter an “alternate name” that can be used to find them through search and that can be displayed next to their real name in parentheses or as a replacement

Josh Constine


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