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Showing posts with the label privacy

Talking to Tech: Keynote at EMERCE Next in Amsterdam

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Wonderful experience speaking as one of the few academics in a room full of young tech entrepreneurs at the EMERCE Next event in Amsterdam. I gave a talk based on my new book 'The Next Billion Users' published by Harvard Press earlier this year. I spoke about the myths that aid agencies and tech industries perpetuate about these new user groups based on their biased understandings of them and rooted in little empirical evidence. Worse yet, even in the face of vast evidence that contradicts these worldviews, this thinking still persists so I hope I was able to disrupt a little bit these conventional approaches. I got questions on Article 13 on copyright policies under the new GDPR which indeed is so far from the world of media piracy in developing countries. I emphasized how we need to look also at why these policies are barely enforced based on historical and unfair media business models in the global south. Other questions grappled with the ways the "West" and the …

Invited to the COST Action Work group on Automation & Mobility

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I have been invited to join the WISE-ACT project, “Wider Impacts and Scenario Evaluation of Autonomous and Connected Transport” and contribute my expertise on privacy, social inclusion and digital mobility in urban space and the future implications on how to organize mobility within public space. This is a new area for me to apply my expertise which is exciting as I have been doing research on how people are tracked with automated systems enabled by big data, be it with the tracking of illegal immigrant's movements via the biometric identity project in India or the banning of travel via the Social Credit system in China or the Smart card in South Africa. 

Basically, the project theme is as follows: Autonomous vehicle (AV) trials are currently taking place worldwide and Europe has a key role in the development of relevant technology. Yet, very limited research exists regarding the wider implications of the deployment of such vehicles on existing road infrastructure, since it is un…

Invited to the Advisory Commission initiative by Facebook

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I have been invited to be on the new advisory committee by Facebook to help scholars independently assess Facebook’s impact on elections, misinformation, privacy and other contemporary and critical issues regarding its usage.
In April, Facebook announced it would be working with a group of academics to establish an independent research commission to look into issues of social and political significance using the company’s own extensive data collection. That commission, called Social Science One has just launched in early July. I will be on the Asian regional committee and partake in collaborations to assess the impact of Facebook in this region.
In the last two years, Facebook tools have not just helped politicians connect with their constituents — and different communities to debate the issues but as we have witnessed, it can be misused to manipulate and deceive. 
To keep this independent, it will be funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Democracy Fund, the William and Flora H…

Invited to talk on privacy at the EuroScience Open Forum

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I have been invited to talk on a EuroScience Open Forum panel that focuses on how big data affects travel behavior, transport planning and autonomous transport, while accounting for data quality, privacy and pan European standardization aspects. This is part of the COST initiative, an EU-funded programme that enables researchers to set up their interdisciplinary research networks in Europe and beyond.

ESOF (EuroScience Open Forum) is the largest interdisciplinary science meeting in Europe. It is dedicated to scientific research and innovation and offersa unique framework for interaction and debate for scientists, innovators, policy makers, business people and the general public.

Created in 2004 by EuroScience, this biennial European forum brings together over 4 000 researchers, educators, business actors, policy makers and journalists from all over the world to discuss breakthroughs in science.

My talk will cover the ethical implications on automating movement across society in public …

LSEImpactBlog out on Facebook as the Internet and the digital romance economy

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Check out my blog on the London School of Economics Impact Blog regarding Facebook and the Digital Romance Economy.

Brief overview...

Through the controversial internet.org initiative, Facebook now serves as The Internet to the majority of the world’s marginalized demographic. The Politics of Data series continues with Payal Arora discussing the role of Facebook and internet regulation in the global South. While the West have had privacy laws in place since the 1970s, the emerging markets are only now seriously grappling with this. This piece explores some of the unfolding areas of vulnerability in the digital romance economy.

New article out on big data and the global south

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Last year, I initiated the Privacy and the global South Project with fieldwork on digital privacy in the favelas of Brazil, townships of South Africa and the slums of India. Its been an exciting year and while at it, big data is one of those topics that dominate this discussion. So, wrote a thought piece on this for Discover Society which just came out. Check it out if you are interested in how conversations on surveillance, privacy, big data and trust transfer to this much neglected setting and populace. 

Excited to be an ITS Global Fellow in Rio this July!

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I have been working for over a decade on the intersection of new communication technologies, social activism, the public sphere and policy. While I have much fieldwork experience in India in this area, I would like to gain a sustained comparative perspective with another emerging market to extend critical understandings across a wider cultural context.

Early last year, I initiated a small comparative project on perspectives on privacy among youth from the slums in Hyderabad,India with youth in favelas in Belo Horizonte and Rio, Brazil. Given that much scholarship on digital privacy pertains to concerns in the West, I saw this as an opportunity to delve into an underrepresented context for a more cross-cultural and transnational dialogue on privacy. Besides, our understandings on ‘digital privacy’ need to go beyond the online realm, and explore the diverse social norms and spheres these private behaviors inhabit.


While fieldwork continues in these two contexts through research assist…

Frontiers of New Media Symposium at University of Utah

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So am back from the University of Utah, having participated in their Frontiers of New Media symposium. The location of Utah is not a coincidence. In 1969, the University of Utah was the fourth of four nodes of the ARPANet. It is popularly believed that the birth of the ARPANet, and later the Internet, marked the beginning of this "new frontier." To top it off, this year, the National Security Agency’s “Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center” will be completed in Bluffdale, Utah. This data center will be a key archive of the electronic communications of individuals all over the world.


In light of the PRISM/NSA scandal, this years symposum theme was "The Beginning and End(s) of the Internet: Surveillance, Censorship, and the Future of Cyber-Utopia." The speakers came from diverse disciplines including law, sociology, cultural studies and communication. Ron Deibert opened the symposium with an alarming keynote on the extent to which we …

Cookie in a cookie jar

We’re all labeled apparently; income level, sex, age, single, married, children and more. To sum up, we are seen to add up to nothing but a cookie that travels with a click of a mouse. WE are our own worst enemy. Naïve about our journeys online, we have supposedly become a gold mine for the government, advertising companies, and more who want so desperately to get to know us better. We are, literally, worth knowing. Our web choices, our little escapades into online dating and shopping are being tracked and profiled. This seems like our fate. The world is spilling with our data. There are no coincidences anymore. You don’t just happen to see online that there is a sale at Macy in San Francisco or that SRK, the Bollywood king just came out with a new movie. It’s all part of the design of public life online. But before we really get caught up with this Big Brother Orwellian notion, let’s take a moment to think of ourselves in all our complexity. I love Beatles, old Hindi songs, Aamir Kha…