Privacy & Quantifying the Real Cost of ‘Free’

This series of ‘Young Innovator Spotlights’ has been inspired by some dynamic young thinkers that we have recently had the pleasure of collaborating with at Meeco. The connected world gives them greater power of speech and scale of communication, but it is also forcing a re-definition of their rights, identity and privacy. This series will highlight the work of these ‘Young Innovators’, who are using innovation and creativity to challenge the status quo. 

Lysanne de Water is a graphic design student at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. For her data design minor she chose to focus on the subject of ‘Internet: Censorship, Privacy and Human Rights’.

She researched twelve digital platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Ello and Meeco to examine each service’s level of transparency, privacy and use of data. She assigned a points system to various forms of personal currency in order to quantify her findings.  She then created a series of visualisations to show what we have to ‘give up’ per service, in terms of the data they collect and how it is used.

She interpreted her research into a short informative website called ‘Privacy as Currency’. (Which I strongly suggest you check out).

In this example, the higher the point score – the larger the circle. The larger the circle, the less ownership the user has over their data or other form of digital currency.

The real cost of privacy

I was lucky enough to chat to her about her research, the website and her general views on data, privacy as well as her own experiences online. Here’s what she had to say…

What does the project title, ‘Privacy as currency’ mean to you?

Companies make money out of behaviour.

Why did you choose this subject?

Data design is something that I am really interested in and I love to work on. I also like to work on topics that are close to me, so I started looking for something that I might like to know that I didn’t know yet. So I started researching the subject of privacy. Even though I’d heard the stories about data, I had never looked specifically at what it means for me.

Do you think that data can be useful to the individual?

I think that it can if people are more aware of what they are giving back. Like with Meeco you make it really graphic for someone to see what they are collecting and then they can see the value in it, then a person can decide ‘I would be okay with that bit being online’ and then they can choose to share it with a company or something like that, I think it’s much clearer then which pieces you want to give up and which you want to keep.

Did your research inspire you to change the way you personally do things online?

Yeah, I still use Facebook, but a lot less. I mean, I have made specific changes to the way I use certain media and it brought me to realise that I spend way too much time on Facebook! Because I was so busy with all these online platforms, it really showed me that I didn’t have to be there all day.

How do you feel about privacy now after doing this research?

I care about the issue of privacy and that people are so unaware of what is happening and how they should deal with it. I would love to take this work a step further at a later stage.

What would you like people to learn from your research?

I think that people have to be more careful about which information they share on a website. They should look at the policies first and then decide if they still want to be there, or ask if there is a place where they can do that in a safer way. I really like what Meeco is doing, it gives you a different perspective compared to the current options. I think that’s really nice.

How do you see this area changing in the future, when your kids are using the internet?

I think that by then we will have a much more structured way of dealing with privacy and that everyone will be much more aware of these things. At this moment, we are moving towards a place where you are getting more options, because of the hype around privacy – so you get a little bit more say in how your life is connected.

I think that will be a more normal expectation to have privacy because I believe that in the future we will be even more online than we are now, so I think that everything will be corrected and that there will be a common understanding about these issues.

I also think that there will be laws for data privacy. At the moment the problem is that the internet is moving so fast and the government usually isn’t and so the laws are still behind. But I think that by the time my children are using the internet (if I have them) that we will have laws for this.

Have you used Meeco?

Yes. It’s nice to have a picture of your life but when it asks for personal information like my social security details, I still feel like I wouldn’t write that down.*

Even though I trust you guys I am still cautious.

Anything else?

What I discovered with my project is that there’s always two sides. There’s always the scary side but then there’s also the side that the medium lets you use a voice in a place where before we didn’t have a voice. So there’s a place where people can say something now. Like I had the freedom to create this project and put it on the internet and I can show people. I can show people on Facebook even though it’s about Facebook. So I also think it has this really positive side that is really nice.

Lysanne is currently working on her graduation project and will be finishing her studies later this year. You can learn more about Lysanne’s work here, in her portfolio.

For the next blog in this series I will be chatting to a group of Digital Data Strategists from Hyper Island in Stockholm. If you know a young innovator whose work you would like to see featured in the spotlight, feel free to send them my way :)  Penelope

*All of your data in Meeco is encrypted and we cannot see it. We believe in your right to privacy, your right to anonymity, and your right to be free from surveillance.

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  1. Pingback: Young Innovator Spotlight: The Data on Data Brokers

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