The draft Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) is a proposed new law on surveillance that was presented to parliament in November 2015. The bill is currently before the Joint Committee (i.e. both Houses of Parliament) which is investigating the content of the bill and will report its recommendations to the Houses in February 2016. The first step of the procedure having been a call for written evidence, which had to be submitted by 21 December 2015, as well as public hearings in November, December 2015 and January 2016. Since the IPB has obvious implications for privacy and digital rights, I decided to take a closer look at the Bill (despite it being 299 pages long).
Many of the most well known internet platforms and apps such as Facebook, Wikipedia, Reddit, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tumblr, etc. are fundamentally dependent on user generated content. Without it, they have nothing to offer to attract or retain users. On the face of it, this would suggest that the balance of power between the companies running the platforms/apps and the users should skew towards the users.
Undoubtedly by now everyone who reads this blog piece will have heard statements like ‘data is the new currency’, or something along the same lines. From a practical lived-experiance perspective the analogies seems obvious. After-all, we pay for software apps and internet services by surrendering private information. It seems the only way to explain the massive stock market valuations of many internet companies.
A mere 25 and a half years have past since the birth of the World Wide Web, currently being celebrated at the Web We Want festival in London. Based on the tone of discussions at the festival today one could certainly be forgiven for coming away with the impression that in this short time the Internet, and the web it supports, has transitioned from a lawless virtual Wild West inhabited primarily by free-spirited, slightly anarchistic, computer geeks into a feudalistic patchwork of fiefdoms, each controlled by a multinational corporation that is rapidly building ever larger walls to shield its user/inhabitants from the dangers of the free and wild internet beyond their control.
Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute has 13 summer internships available at The University of Nottingham, two of which are connected to the CaSMa project. Each internship is funded for 10 weeks. The internships are aimed at undergraduate students and current postgraduate students. Postgraduate students from The University of Nottingham are able to apply, on the understanding they suspend their stipend this is due to the nature of the funding source, for oversees students a Visa has to be in place already and to cover the duration of the internship to be eligible.
For more details of each internship and how to apply, see the webpage at http://www.horizon.ac.uk/Internships-available
The closing date is Sunday 31st May 2015.
The CaSMa internships are:
It’s been a busy week in the world of digital rights. On April 11th the UK’s Liberal Democratic party decided to put digital rights on the election campaign agenda by launching a proposal for a Digital Bill of Rights. On April 15th, the Global Commission on Internet Governance released a statement titled “Towards a Social Compact for Digital Privacy and Security” in the run up to the 2015 Global Conference on Cyber Space in the Hague, which culminated with the launch of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise.
On April 9th the first two iRights Youth Juries were held at University of Nottingham. In collaboration with the civil society initiative, iRights, and Prof. Coleman’s lab from University of Leeds, CaSMa will be running 12 Youth Juries to allow children and young people to have a say about their rights on the internet. At the Youth Juries groups of 10 to 15 participants, aged 12-17, are asked to consider, debate and share ideas about the future of the internet.
On March 30th, Martha Lane Fox delivered the annual Richard Dimbleby Lecture on BBC with an eloquent and passionate call for the creation of a new civic institution charged with making the UK the “most digital nation on the plant”. The institution she envisaged, and provisionally named “Dot Everyone”, would boost the needs of the civic, public and non-commercial side of the internet while simultaneously providing the infrastructure, skills and training which private companies are desperately looking for.
In this blog the CaSMa research team, Ansgar Koene, Elvira Perez Vallejos, Chris Carter and Ramona Statache will take turns to summarize recent results from the CaSMa project, report on workshop events or comment on social media analysis related items that were recently in the news.