Have you ever actually read the terms and conditions before signing up to a website or ordering something online? These long, wordy documents are a form of consumer protection designed to make sure we are fully informed when we agree to an online contract. They are supposed to ensure we are making a conscious decision to sign up to a service with full knowledge of the consequences.
The Social Media & Society conference series has been bringing together social media researchers annually since 2010. This year’s meeting in London (UK) was the first time it was held outside of Canada. For CaSMa this offered an excellent opportunity to present the results of the work Andrew Moffat at the Horizon CDT did for our POET project. Follow these links for more information about Andrew’s project, poster he presented at SM&S 16 and the report he wrote about his work.
As part of our ongoing collaboration with the Gada for the civic-engagement in the digital age project, we participated in the Connected Life 2016 conference that was held at the Oxford Internet Institute on June 20th and 21st. We were particularly interested in this conference because of the deliberate efforts by the (student) organizers to include not only academics but also activists and civic/civil-society NGOs among the speakers and discussion panels. While the first day of the conference consisted of academic talks, the second day was organized around workshops and panel discussions by activist/NGOs.
On June 16th we joined civil society organizations like Privacy International, the European Digital Rights association EDRi and various others for a half-day civil society summit organized by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). On the agenda were a brief overview of the “Big Issues in Privacy and Data Protection in 2016” by Joe MCNamee of EDRi followed by three one-hour sessions on “Implementation of the GDPR, consistency, flexibility, guidelines” introduced by Anna Fielder (Privacy International); “Reform of e-Privacy Directive: What’s at stake?” introduced by Prof. Ian Brown (Oxford Internet Institute); and “Necessity and proportionality and data protection” introduced by Ralf Bendrath (German Working Group on Data Retention and Digitale Gesellschaft).
On June 2nd and June 3rd the biennale Danish conference on STS (DASTS16) was held at Aarhus, Denmark. The tagline for the conference was the “quintessential anti-determinist and anti-essentialist mantra of STS ‘It could have been different'”.
The United Nations mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) recently launched a call for papers to contribute to an e-book “that examines how the uses of current technologies, and the development of new ones, can contribute to guarantee and protect human rights within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development framework. Hence, considering that every Sustainable Development Goal aims to protect one or more human rights, and that states will rely on the use of technological innovations and global interconnectedness to implement the 2030 Agenda, we are looking for articles that explore one or more of the following topics:
Over the last couple of weeks, Facebook has repeatedly had to defend itself against criticism about the way in which it makes editorial decisions when selecting stories that will appear on its ‘Trending Topics’ and ‘News Feed’.
At the heart of current online consumer protection is the concept of informed consent where by the prospective consumer makes a conscious decision to sign up to a service with full knowledge and consent to the consequences of doing so. Even in the newly signed EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will go into effect in 2018, this will not fundamentally change. For anyone who has ever used a commercial internet service however, and this included policy makers, it is glaringly obvious that there is a fundamental flaw in this approach, namely the assumption that the consumer has a good understanding of the contract that is being entered into.
The Science and Technology Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into robotics and artificial intelligence (deadline for written submission was April 29th) as part of the continuing national strategy for Robotics and Autonomous Systems (RAS) innovation. In 2012 the UK Government identified RAS as one of the ‘Eight Great Technologies’, leading to the establishment of a ‘RAS Special Interest Group’ and the RAS national strategy in 2014. In 2015 the Special Interest Group published The UK Landscape for Robotics and Autonomous Systems and The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council also launched an UK-RAS network.
What follows is the response that was submitted by Ansgar Koene and Yohko Hatada.