New Adventures 2020 – Laura Kalbag on defying the mainstream: building technology that respects our rights

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Laura Kalbag knows her stuff when it comes to the intersection of privacy and design. My notes below don't even scratch the surface of all the knowledge she shared. I knew it was bad. I knew how much targeting happens but I didn't have a clue how far it has got with putting us all into precise buckets. Only 15 data points are needed to remove anonymity from most people and yet the large data brokers often have up to 3000 of them for an individual person. It seems impossible to move away from all of this, but Laura is encouraging us to make better decisions with everything we build and that "small tech" is surely the way to beat "big tech".

My notes:

  • Showed the amount of clickbait (from Taboola) on news site (PinkNews)
  • Through chosen topics alone the clickbait shows how much it knows how much it knows
  • Found Taboola on nearly 5% of all sites
  • For targeting when “most receptive”
  • Have a specific privacy policy for third parties
  • “Connects only pseudonymised data”
  • “Let’s debunk this” “pseudonymised or anonymised data doesn’t mean your unidentifiable”
  • “A data segment is a group of users who share one or more attributes [...] data partners” axiom and oracle.
  • Cracked labs do research into different data brokers
  • “Acxiom provides up to 3k attributes” only need 15 for most databases
  • “First sign of pain I take medication” is just one of many of their “not sensitive” health-related segments
  • Marketers have access to this
  • Recommends The Age Of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff
  • The author went on Adam Buxton’s podcast
  • Does the website break if cookies are disabled?
  • Don’t blame the victim
  • Our concept of privacy is being twisted (Facebook)
  • People who only use mobiles (mainly lower-income people) are disproportionately exploited.
  • “If you don’t like the technology you don’t have to use it” shallow. We can’t get away from it. Online life and real life are the same things.
  • “We have to reckon with the colonial way in which we’ve created technology”
  • “It’s hard to advocate for change when alternatives don’t yet exist”
  • “We have the power to make that change”
  • “We can build upon best practises but not make assumptions”
  • “Build technology for everyday people, not just startups and enterprises”
  • “Don’t use third-party consent frameworks” (I sooooo agree with this)
  • “It feels impossible, it probably is”
  • Use small tech as criteria for the next project or job
  • Seek alternatives to software you use every day