Things that caught our eye

What has David Bowie got to do with Privacy?

13 Jan, 2016   | by:

Like all of you, our team here at theiii were devasted to hear about the passing of Bowie… However, without much ado we do not want to refrain from sharing this piece on the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP)’s Website written by @JedBracy.

So check out “David Bowie just proved that privacy is not dead” to get the answer to our Question and read a heartwarming piece about David Bowie.

We’ll be back soon!

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Thou Shalt Never Forget

27 May, 2015   | by:

Disclaimer: Although the issue of memory in a digital society is a very cutting-edge topic, this report can be rather confusing for anyone who hasn’t been thinking about remembering and forgetting in the digital age for as long as I have, I apologize for that. For more insight on the ideas behind this workshop and the project run by the Research Center for Information Law (FIR-HSG) at the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland please take a look at our Wiki.

Last month, I organized and attended the concluding workshop for our (my professors’ and my) project called “Remembering and Forgetting in the Digital Age“. We invited renown scholars from all over the world who in one way or the other deal with memory in the digital age and we were very happy to host guests such Urs GasserViktor Mayer-SchönbergerMichael ArnoldWesley Shumar and many more. More…

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Things that caught our eye

Of prostitutes, former presidents for motorsports (FIA) and forgetting in the internet

21 May, 2015   | by:

Max Mosley is is the former president of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and has been fighting Google for a couple of years now. He has been trying to sue Google for displaying unfortunate pictures of himself at – let’s call it –  a”sex party”. According to Anya Proops, on Panopticon, the question Mosley brought to court against Google

“is an important issue for those data subjects who garner significant public attention within the online environment, as was the case with Mr Mosley. The difficulty for such individuals is that online stories or comments about them can proliferate on the internet at such a rate that they cannot practicably achieve the online amnesia they crave.”

On the other hand, public figures like Mosley will always be in the spotlight and of public interest which is why they probably should refrain from taking part in orgies or alike, just saying…

Just last year, a court in Hamburg decided that Google was no longer allowed to display these unflattering and possibly damaging (to Mosley’s reputation) photos. And last week, Mosley finally settled with Google and everyone is hoping that this is the last we hear about Mosley v Google. It is definitely not the last time we will be discussing the European “Right to be Forgotten”!



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Things that caught our eye

Amazon Kicks Ass: Patent for Prime Air Delivery System Published!

20 May, 2015   | by:

In 2013, Amazon announced that they would start delivering products directly to their customers via drones – Amazon Prime Air. Purchasers would no longer have to wait for days until their order arrived, but could choose the speedy option and drones would deliver everything within hours to their doorstep. “Convenience” was the buzzword pushing forward this project but back then nobody was sure if that would be legal as according to the FAA drones were not allowed to be used for commercial purposes. Here’s Amazon’s letter to the FAA pleading for exemption from this clause. In March this year, the FAA finally allowed Amazon to test their new delivery system which is a big step forward…

And just last week more good news, Amazon’s  patent for their Prime Air Delivery System was published the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Is it just a matter of time now, that goods aren’t just purchasable at our fingertips but also deliverable within the hour? Stay tuned, we will be following the developments closely.

For further information on the Prime Air patent click here.

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“YouNow” – Kids enjoy it but it could turn out to be Every Parent’s Nightmare!

20 Feb, 2015   | by:

YouNow is a website that went live in the US in 2011 and just came to Switzerland and the rest of the German-speaking world in 2014. It allows its users to broadcast themselves online via their webcam wherever they are and whenever they want. More…

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Things that caught our eye

“Reflections on the Digital World”

5 Feb, 2015   | by:

Just a quickie about the Internet Monitor project’s second annual report from 2014 “Reflections on the Digital World”. I thought some of y’all might be interested in taking a look inside to see what the Internet Monitor has picked as the most exciting and new developments when it comes to the digital world.

“The report focuses on the interplay between technological platforms and policy; growing tensions between protecting personal privacy and using big data for social good; the implications of digital communications tools for public discourse and collective action; and current debates around the future of Internet governance.”

Probably an interesting read for everyone who is interested in the iii!

Things that caught our eye

Smart Cities – Exclusionary by Default?!

14 Jan, 2015   | by:

I’ve been interested in the concept of Smart Cities for two reasons: For one, part of my dissertation is based on the assumption that Smart Cities are the way governments in the near future are going to want to go. If that happens, government bodies will be collecting more and more data from civilians, thus, posing a threat to data protection. Secondly, because I think Smart Cities could entail great opportunities for us to live in a sustainable community, if regulated appropriately. But one problem remains:

“The smart city is full of barriers. First you must be able to connect to the network. Then you must show your credentials by logging in. It’s like showing your passport to take a walk in the park.”, as Dr. Anthony Townsend points out.

Much like inequality, usually people look to the legilsator to solve issues such as exclusion. But I am a strong defender of the idea that if everything we do, think, use, buy, eat and so on, is connected (“Internet of Things“), then the way to solve problems arising with this network of everything is not just to take a regulatory approach. We need interdisciplinary solutions.

Townsend’s presentation, he held as part of Delft University of Technology’s 173rd Dies Natalis, was titled: “Can engineers build inclusive Smart Cities?” and his answer was: YES. He showed three approaches which could help solve the exclusionary concerns Smart Cities entail. Therefore, providing three areas that could be improved by engineers without any help of the legislator:

  1. Open Information Architectures: “We need to make data architectures open to drive innovation. Modularity and inter-operability are key — so that anyone can build new applications on top of at little or not cost.”
  2. Transparent and Interpretable Models: “By transparent, I mean that the assumptions embedded in simulations and predictive models, automated infrastructure, and decision-support systems are open to public scrutiny. By interpretable, I mean that machine learning techniques have advanced to such a state that the way they produce results is beyond human understanding.”
  3. Engineering Ethics Education: “Ethics is only just taking hold in engineering and business schools — in the United States, the latest accreditation guidelines for engineering schools — for the first time — requires students receive merely ‘an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility’.”

I will leave you with that and hope to have given you some food for thought. Enjoy Townsend’s full presentation and others on Smart Cities here.

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Things that caught our eye

Say Goodbye to Harry Potter – Open Sourcery is what the cool kids practice now

21 Nov, 2014   | by:

Marco Tempest is a digital magician and aims to create illusions with technology. But not to fool people and have them walk out still wondering how that worked. He wants to teach the public what technology can make possible and does this in a fun an interactive way. Take a sneak peak at one of his shows here.

Federico Guerrini wrote a piece about Marco’s work in Forbes. It was an interesting and inspiring read. Guerrini states:

“But it does reach nonetheless its goal, which is to inspire people and make them less suspicious of and more engaged with technology, whether it’s augmented reality, artificial intelligence of another of the many things lots of people talk about, but very few actually are able to understand.”

I think it’s a great idea to share technology and its possibilities with the greater public. By showing the opportunities of technology in a magic show is an interesting take on technology while leaving out all the complicated (and sometimes terrifying) technical stuff. It makes technology more accesible to everyone and helps engage kids, parents, teachers and anyone else who could use a little help from technology but aren’t quite sure how to use it – just like me!


Things that caught our eye

Why can’t just forget too?

12 Nov, 2014   | by:

In his open letter to Google John M. Simpson, Privacy Project Director of Consumer Watchdog, is asking them to implement the EU’s “Right to be Forgotten” for US users on a voluntary basis too. His main argument why should do so, is that removals of links are not automated. Google has to strike a balance between the interests involved and seems to be doing so quite successfully, as Simpson states:

“I was heartened to see – based on Google’s own numbers – that you appear able to strike this balance in Europe and it does not appear to be an undue burden on your resources.”
The numbers seem pretty promising. So far, Google has received approx. 150’000 removal requests since the CJEU’s decision in May 2014 and has removed approx. 48% of the links in question, keeping the rest online. Thus, Simpson argues in his letter that striking a balance between the respective interests has proven to be easy enough for Google so why not provide the same “service” for US users.
Interesting enough there seems to be a slow movement going on in the US towards more privacy on the Internet. Let’s see if Europe and the US can find common grounds in the near future. Here’s the letter for further reading.

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Things that caught our eye

Science Fiction is the Future

21 Oct, 2014   | by:

Gideon Lichfield has one goal for the time being and that is to “Treat the future as real life” by looking at the future via science fiction! It’s a pretty awesome idea if you ask me. Lichfield recently started a fellowhip at the Data & Society Research Institute and the question he is trying to answer is:

“How do you make the extremely complex and multilayered issues that data-based technologies raise — from how sensor data can upend urban planning to what happens when nobody’s DNA is private any more — comprehensible and meaningful for the people whose lives they’ll affect, i.e., absolutely everyone?”

I’m pretty sure this is going to be an interesting development to follow (@glichfield) which is why I thought I’d share. Enjoy!

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Things that caught our eye

When Facebook and Apple freeze your eggs – Listen up Ladies!

15 Oct, 2014   | by:

This may be an unusal news post from our side, but I am fascinated and shocked about the new perks Facebook and Apple are willing to offer women. Because Silicon Valley has come up with an idea to encourage women who pursue their careers and also want to have children. According to a Swiss Newspaper Facebook and Apple are now willing to offer highly qualified academic women incentives – meaning money – to freeze their eggs in order to keep on working. Women are no longer under the pressure to have a baby before they are 40 and can pursue a fruitful and long career in these two companies. Apparently, women have been doing this for a while in the U.S. NBC News says that these two companies are most likely the first to offer this kind of coverage for non-medical reasons. Brigitte Adams, founder of the patient forum, said:

“Having a high-powered career and children is still a very hard thing to do.”

“By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.”

Even though I myself believe in women being able to have a great career while at the same time having children, I am not quite sure what kind of message this offer is sending us. It seems like these perks are just another sign from the corporate world telling women that a career and children are two incompatible wishes unless you freeze your eggs – thus postponing actually having children at an early stage in your “work-life”. So women of the world or at least of Silicon Valley (for now) listen up: You can have children, just not straight away!

Enjoy the full story “Perk Up: Facebook and Apple Now Pay for Women to Freeze Eggs” here.

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Things that caught our eye

We know that Big Brother is watching us. But did you know he was listening too?

14 Oct, 2014   | by:

According to the Guardian UK governments are already widely using “voiceprint” ID technology to identify people via their speech. A survey by the Associated Press showed that over 65 million voiceprints have already been saved by governments and companies to date. And the numbers are rising.

[Jay Stanley] added that use of voiceprints by companies to counter fraud had its benefits, but that it came with costs.

Is this another step towards mass surveillance? What does this mean for our privacy rights? Where do we draw the line when it comes to government duties? And what about our right to free speech? Can we no longer exercise it anonymously?

Several phone services rely on guaranteeing privacy to callers – crime hotlines run by police, counselling services, and numbers that people who have suffered domestic violence or other abuse are encouraged to call in the knowledge that their identities will not be compromised, for instance.

For companies “voiceprint” means more customer insight and less effort to gain the information their marketing department needs. But Stanley quite rightly says:

Biometrics are never 100% accurate [and] Are people going to be blacklisted by government institutions because their voice is mistaken for that of a fraudster?

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The value of your personal data in a panoptic society

7 Oct, 2014   | by:

As the usage of Apps and other web-based services grows on a daily basis, using data as a currency has been the talk of the town – or more the globe. According to IBM which was quoted in an article written in 2013 by three consultants working for Deloitte: “Ninety percent of the data in the world today was created in the last two years” and Between now and 2020, the global volume of digital data is expected to multiply another 40 times or more”. More…

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Things that caught our eye

Remembering and Forgetting in the Digital Age: Are Machines taking over those tasks for us?

6 Oct, 2014   | by:

Over the past year and a bit I’ve been looking at how the digitalization of information and – well – many other things are affecting how we, companies or the government remember and forget things and how law should react to this in order to ensure the right amount of information is remembered respectively forgotten. Not an easy task, as many different perspectives and interests are involved. More…

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Things that caught our eye

Big Data and how humans learn…

2 Oct, 2014   | by:

This might be one of the most interesting videos I’ve seen lately – although it’s from 2011. But basically this TED Talk “The Birth of a Word” starts with the tracking of how a child learns how to talk and goes on to modelling the brain of society as a whole. More…

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Things that caught our eye

Speaking of “What’s in a name?”

1 Oct, 2014   | by:

Check this out: “‘What’s in a name?’ – Privacy and anonymous speech on the Internet“, keynote speech by Lord Neuberger, President of the UK Supreme Court.

Things that caught our eye

Mindfulness in Tech Companies – Are Companies trying to profit from our “zen”?

29 Sep, 2014   | by:

So apparently, companies like Google are hosting events for their employees to help them become more mindful. More…

Things that caught our eye

Information Governance Across Your Organization

29 Sep, 2014   | by:

Finally, an interesting intiative on the corporate side of data use! More…


How should/do Google & Co. carry out the “Right to be Forgotten”?

28 Sep, 2014   | by:

The CJEU’s decision in the Case of Google Spain, Google v. AEPD has caused a lot of discussion around the globe (See both Anna’s and Stefan’s blog about the decision). Search Engines, especially Google, have called for guidance on how to decide whether information connected to a person’s name is

inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes of the processing at issue carried out by the operator of the search engines”

and thus has to be deleted. More…

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