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Guest blog: Matt

Summary of the Panel:

Speaker 1, Gregory Donovan:

Approached study of the Internet as an ecological study. Primarily analyzed the exploitative nature of “dataveillance” and growing “Smart City” ecosystem.

“Dataveillance” refers to the collection of user data for the purpose of business. Most consumers are unaware the extent to which the technology they use is collecting data on them, as terms and conditions are designed to be unreadable. As the business is currently enacted, the relationship between consumer and supplier is extremely exploitative.  In the current Internet environment, users have little control about the extent to which their information is utilized by businesses. By forcing attention to this issue, it will encourage more users to actively invest in concerns of Internet privacy and challenge these exploitative business practices.

“Smart Cities” refer to the new model of industrialized cities where greater emphasis is placed on technology being used for both economic and cultural uses.  Cities are now investing in more advanced technologies that can increase the degree to which everyday actions are scrutinized by authorities. There is great potential for these technologies to be used in abusive manners, as raised by the issue of a drug dealer who unknowing had a tracking device placed in his car by the police. The major point of this topic was to further emphasize the importance of citizen engagement and awareness of the technologies available and their potential uses. By bringing awareness to these issues, it will enable people the capacity to challenge these practices and reclaim ownership of the Internet by the users.

Speaker 2, Carolyn Anhalt:

An introduction to the available tools and technologies that enable users to engage with the Internet in a private and secure manner

This aspect of the panel had a greater focus on the technical aspects of Internet privacy and what programs can be used. Anhalt explained the functions of various resources such as the search engines Tor and Duck Duck Go. She explained that at the minor cost of a relatively small wait; these engines encrypted your information and make the content of your search safer from prying eyes. Anhalt also explained the rationale behind the use of these tools. the belief that a user should have the option to ensure their own privacy. In essence, by developing a greater understanding of available tools; users are able to take ownership of their Internet usage and protect their data.

Speaker 3, Sandra Ordonez:

The final speaker was an advocate for open-source media and culture.

The primary focus of this segment of the panel was explaining the philosophies behind open-source culture and encouraging open-source advocacy and volunteering. Open-source practices are essentially non-profit communal efforts to promote Internet literacy and computer skills for the benefit of the global Internet community. Examining the nature and goals behind open-source technology offered insight onto resources for both education and career networking on a global scale. The major example of open-source resource being available to the public was the introduction TA3M. TA3M consists of open meetings located in many cities around the world that are offer talks, workshops about open-source resources, computer skills and opportunities to network. As a whole, the open-source community is the source of many of the resources that attempt to enable users to have more control over their privacy.

My personal response:

Overall I thought the panel was extremely informative and helped clarify a lot of the rationale for protecting my data. Before the panel, I was inclined to think “Well, I doubt the stuff I do on the Internet will cause a significant uproar if it gets out”. However, now that I am better acquainted with the reasons why I should be invested in my privacy and the tools to do so with, I feel much more obligated to take action. Of all aspects of the panel, I felt the discussion of open-source culture was most significant. I certainly agree with the book-publishing model of Internet business [Pay for labor and intellectual property, not the program itself] and want to support more open source labor. I plan to attend at least one TA3M session sometime this summer and expose myself to that community. As a user of certain open-source programs specifically designed for musicians, I can personally attest to how helpful open-source content can be to the creative community. In addition, I think in a digital age, fostering diverse real world communities of educated technology users and developers can only be beneficial to the world at large and wish to contribute to that development.



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