Monday, May 17, 2010

Apres la Deluge: Privacy, DP and the New Politics

Wow, I've been gone a long time haven't I? There was quite a lot of Real Life to catch up on after the DEB/DEA, y'know :-) Also an election, and some real everyday work to do!

Breaking my silence however, I've just blogged over at the ORG-blog on Welcome to the Former Big Brother House - considering the new programme of rolling back the surveillance state and bolstering civil liberties in the Lib/Con coalition document; and wondering what more concessions to better privacy we might get in the ongoing process of reforming the Data Protection Directive, where a first draft proposal is expected by end 2010. Pangloss is involved in one part of the process (the impacy assessment, as an external expert) and so far is feeling cautiously hopeful about it.

Also on upcoming events:

THIS! Friday May 21st is my inaugural lecture, free for all comers:

Anti-Social Networking

This lecture will look at the exponential growth of social networking sites (SNSs) eg Facebook, Twitter, over the last few years and ask what the social and legal impacts have been. The first half will cover the well trodden litany of threats and risks associated with SNSs eg privacy impacts, inadvertent data disclosure, targeted advertising, fraud, malware and spam, child protection etc, and ask what progress is being made in these areas, with particular emphasis on privacy. The second half however will turn to the bright side and ask, especially in the wake of the Digital Economy Bill/Act debacle, if SNSs present an opportunity to move from an outmoded and geography-limited 19th century version of representational democracy, towards a new electronic agora, which might in particular re-attract the young towards political participation.

St George's Church, Mappin Street, Sheffield
at 5pm, 21st May 2010. Reception after at ICOSS building adjacent. Email: for info.

June 1: Arcadia seminar at the Cambridge Univerity Library, 6pm, Old Combination Room (OCR) at Wolfson College.

Death 2.0: What Becomes of Digital Assets after Death?

Death seems to be discussed in web 2.0 circles only when it is tragic (eg internet suicide clusters) or in some other newsworthy (eg the Lori Drew online harassment case ). Yet if Facebook alone claim some 400 million subscribers, then it stands to reason that some of them will be reaching their final end as I write in quite ordinary ways. Yet the law is vague in the extreme (and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction) on who would "own" a user's Facebook profile in that sad event; and more significantly, what rights either the deceased or the heirs might have against Facebook to demand that the profile be deleted, maintained as a going concern , exported or preserved ("memorialised"). Nor is this problem confined to Facebook. Digital assets will be increasingly important as items in succession - and as cultural heritage - as the web 2.0 generation ages ; and might include not only profiles on social networking sites, but also reputations and identities on money-making sites like eBay, photos on sites like Flickr and even user preferences on sites like Yet so far little or no attention has been paid to the legal nature and transmission of digital assets, except within the limited (if glamorous) domain of virtual property in virtual worlds and MMORPGs. Neither are all digital assets likely to fall into categories of recognisable intellectual property (IP) protection. This paper seeks to investigate this domain, having regard to the interests of user, relatives, platform and especially, the public interest in preservation of online cultural heritage.

16 June, OECD Workshop on Internet intermediaries, Paris; closed meeting.

17 -18 June, CCD COE Conference on Cyber Conflict 2010, Tallinn, Estonia (speaking on state attribution and domestic legsl remedies for preventing cyberattacks, with Russell Buchan , Sheffield University)

28-29 June GikII V, Edinburgh, final programme up very shortly.