Digital Privacy Meeting @ Civic Hall - July 20, 2016

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  • ISOC-NY sponsored this event on Wednesday, July 20, from 5pm – 7pm. It was held at Civic Hall, 156 5th Ave, 10010, NY.

Hello everyone, I’m Shuli Hallak and I’ve been working on visualizing the Internet since 2013. And I’m the new Exec VP of ISOC-NY. What I care about personally and professionally is ensuring that we create the future we want, one that protects individual rights, creates an equal society by removing gatekeepers and decentralizing power.

We’re at a critical crossroads right now. The Internet is a powerful tool that has and continues to transform our world and society. We all depend on it. It has flattened knowledge and distributed power structures, empowering individuals to express themselves and bypass traditional gatekeepers.

The key to the Internet is information, or data. Data is the new gold. It’s value is incapable of being measured because of all the ways that it can be collected and harnessed. And like any tool, including the Internet, data is neither good or bad, it’s the application of the data that determines its trajectory.

And this is our crossroads. We’re in a space that is unregulated and power / data is up for grabs. We willingly give it away in exchange for services. We have no laws yet governing how this data can be used and we really don’t even know who owns our own data.

There is so much good that can come from these technologies and applications. Not just things that make our everyday lives easier, like personal assistants, self-driving cars, and connected devices, but also so many applications that are critical to the health and wellness of the more vulnerable population. Door bells for the dear and hard of hearing, wrist bands for children that can monitor if they’re in water to help keep them from drowning, and all sorts of alerts for those needing to monitor their aging parents. And then there’s all the information and progress coming out of quantified self applications. The list goes on.

But new opportunities create new challenges. The challenge we need to address is how that data is being used, like government and corporate surveillance, and targeted advertising as we’ll hear more about in just a bit.

The concerning thing about any agency, private or government, having this much data and power is that it can be used for behavioral manipulation. We’ve seen this concern with Facebook news feeds and Google search results. From nudging what we buy to pushing certain districts and populations to vote.

I just heard today that Amazon Echo might be subject to FBI wiretapping. There are over 3 million of these devices all over the world, just listening to what is happening in people’s homes. conversations, intimacy, fights, access to our most personal selves.

Our phones record things we don’t know, as well.

The general rule is, “if it’s connected, it’s collecting.”

We’re heading towards a surveillance state and that never goes in a good direction. It has never lead to a freer society or a stronger democracy. In fact, a surveillance state and a democracy are mutually exclusive.

So what do we do, besides becoming luddites and wearing tin foil hats?

Change needs to happen from the ground up. We are the ones who need to lead the movement.

We can start to change our mindset and expect to pay for secure services that protect our privacy rather than barter it away in exchange for free services. We can create a new business model that is centered around privacy and security rather than data exploitation.

This is the time for start ups to build and offer these services, to win back user trust. If we don’t protect our individual right to privacy, we essentially give up our democracy.

The way forward is for all of us to be informed, educated and aware. We need to know how the Internet works, how our data is used, collected, sold and analyzed, how law enforcement, government agencies, and corporations track our movements. Because we value our democracy, and want to protect it.

We should use VPN’s, RFID blockers such as the ones that Silent Pocket has given us, TOR browser, and in general, just be aware that anything you do with any connected device is not private.

And we should be using services such as Ghostery, which offers a browser extension to help us see and control how we are being tracked online. On that note, let me introduce our speaker:

Todd Ruback is the Chief Privacy Officer & VP of Legal Affairs at Ghostery, a New York City based technology company that helps consumers and businesses have a cleaner, better and safer digital experience through it’s suite of privacy and data products.

As the Ghostery’s first CPO he oversees the company’s global privacy program, and ensures that its products and services incorporate privacy by design into their architecture.

Prior to Ghostery he chaired the privacy and technology practice at DiFrancesco, Bateman in New Jersey and was the founder and chairman of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Privacy Committee. He is active in the IAPP and presently holds certification as a CIPP-US/E, and CIPT.

  • //Slides from Ghostery//
  • Silent Pocket Drawing - The concluding agenda item was a drawing for a Silent Pocket that shields radio emissions via a faraday cage. It was won by a ISOC-NY member and is now available on short or long-term loan to anyone who might benefit from its use.