Post 8—Possible design responses

To begin considering how to create a design response to the complex issue of online privacy and surveillance we had to situate ourselves in the framework of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY? Creating a written guide to this allowed us to springboard various ideas around in a group brainstorming session.

Who Does the Problem Affect?

Online privacy and data security is a major concern for anyone who is an active internet user. In this case, young people are probably the largest consumers of social media, online networks and platforms. The seamless nature of many online applications are appealing, inviting and user friendly for younger generations—encouraging them to share locations, photos, videos, messages, banking details etc. without a second thought.

What Are the Boundaries of the Problem?

The underlying problem that exists is that there is both a lack of general awareness and education about safe practices online. This is particularly concerning when the internet is now essential to human existence.

When Does the Problem Occur? When Does it Need to be Fixed?

Data breaches, hacking and surveillance of the public occur on a daily basis. It is impossible to know that you are completely secure whilst you are connected to the internet. It also becomes obvious that there is a lack of awareness when legislation and policies are implemented such as the metadata retention scheme or shortcoming of governing bodies such as #censusfail involving the ABS.

Where is the problem occurring?

The problem occurs on three levels, which have been complexly interweaved by rapidly developing digital technologies.

Personal—In homes, workplaces and institutions personal users have somewhat of a control over what they share on the internet. However these users may not be totally aware of the implications of their online interactions. On a personal level most problems are encountered within the spaces of social media platforms, online shopping and subscription based entertainment services.

National—A lack of knowledge and accountability is most obvious within various sectors of the government. Policy makers themselves often have difficulty explaining the complexities of the privacy vs. security debate. Government agencies don’t necessarily have a regulatory framework to adhere to so accountability and transparency are also big issues that align themselves with education and awareness.

International—Much the same as on a national level, each country has its own individual set of policies on surveillance, data collection etc. which makes it difficult for users to ascertain information about their rights online. The digital sphere exists without physical borders. Large global corporations and militaries often find themselves in the midst of international data controversies.

Why is it important that the problem is fixed? What impact does it have on all stakeholders?

People deserve the right to exercise control over their personal data. As raw data is fast becoming a complementary currency we must be aware about how it is used and who can access it. Being well informed about when and where to share our data will hopefully reduce the likelihood of being surveilled and marketed to. Building awareness and education systems about online privacy creates a new level of trust between governing bodies and the people, whilst facilitating the ideals of equality and transparency.

Problem statement

How can we provide education/raise awareness about the complexities of the collection and use of our data to an 18-24 yr old demographic?

3 possible outcomes

App/web plugin (service design)—A sort of bot which could scrape the web and provide alerts about when our data is being collected in a simplified way rather than having read fine print Terms and conditions. It would be beneficial to provide an option to opt out of that service once notified of data collection.

Data rave (generative system)—A physical space where raw data is aggregated into an experimental audio visual experience based on how the users interact with the space. This encompassing experience would play into the emotional response of users.

Live art projection (data visualisation)—Projecting large scale sets of unsecured digital information into public spaces which highlight the vulnerability of personal data.

Initial Proposal

Paradoxically this proposal involves invading someones personal device to create awareness. This design response would involve a live data visualisation art piece where by a computer program can access a persons phone and then it anonymously displays your last text message. This is then projected on the walls and floor of a gallery space or a public outdoor location. People may be confronted, confused or find it funny but it goes to show us on a large scale how easy it is to access someone else’s data and how vulnerable we can feel when it is in plain sight, yet also how useless our data could be if anonymous. Controversy and humour are often easy way to get younger people involved. It would be hoped that this would prompt a discussion which pushes online privacy education—how to make sure you are secure, people becoming aware of networks, relationships and data in a space and how online actions can affect real life.

by Samson Ossedryver

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