Privacy, prosumer law & competition workshop, 2 June EDPS
WORKSHOP ON PRIVACY
CONSUMERS, COMPETITION AND BIG
EDPS/EPARL 2 JUNE 2014
Professor Chris Marsden, University of Sussex
Thematic discussion 3: How to encourage a market for privacy-enhancing services
Everything Is Broken
“Facebook and Google seem very powerful,
but they live about a week from total ruin all the time.
They know the cost of leaving social networks individually is high, but en masse,
becomes next to nothing.
Windows could be replaced with something better written.
Corporations and governments would rather bend to demands than die.
These entities do everything they can get away with—but we’ve forgotten that
we’re the ones that are letting them get away with things.”
Much of what I am going to say is taken from
my book with Oxford’s Ian Brown:
(2013) Regulating Code, MIT Press
See Ian Brown (2012) Privacy attitudes,
incentives and behaviours
Conclusion: more privacy regulation
Social networks already regulate user privacy
Dominant and arguably irreplicable advantages
They dictate which code can be used
Widespread regulation of social networking
Including in US – Federal Trade Commission
1. European Court cases –data retention and deletion
2. European Parliament pressure post-Snowden
3. NRA decisions on cloud, Streetview and others
New European Data Protection Regulation?
Social networks: US solutions instead of
Facebook’s 400m European users
28 national regulators of personal data.
Facebook regulator relocated in 2006
from Dublin to Portarlington, Co. Laois
Google is also regulated from Portarlington.
Ireland on edge of bankruptcy in 2009-13
Ireland unsinkable aircraft carrier?
While German state and federal regulators and
others may rattle sabres at Facebook,
Irish regulator audited Facebook 2012
insisting on remedial action on nine counts
50 ways to leave Facebook
Not sufficient to permit data deletion
as that only covers the user’s tracks.
Interconnection and interoperability,
more than transparency and
theoretical possibility to switch.
Prosumers to interoperate to permit exit
Lower entry barriers lead to increased consumer welfare
Prosumers not super-users
Web 2.0 and related tools make for active users, not
US administrative & academic arguments
self-regulation may work for geeks,
but what about the other 99%?
European regulatory space
more fertile ground to explore prosumerism
as both a market-based and
citizen-oriented regulatory tool
Personal data is NOT metaphorical oil in digital
unless bodies have seeped into the sediment.
Personal data accumulate with our journey into cyberspace
Better metaphor is silk,
woven into tapestry of online personality.
Potential to move beyond a caterpillar-like role as a producer
of raw silk
Ability to regenerate into a butterfly or moth?
Silkworms that turned
Weaving of a web by billions of prosumer-created sites.
Silk created tapestries Wikipedia, Facebook and MySpace
Arguably loss of ownership led MySpace decline.
Prosumer boycott led by those preferring control of own data
cocooned in their own personal form: chrysalis or pupae
Such boycotts rapidly create a landscape of zombie users:
ancient Hotmail and MySpace accounts that are undead, unchecked,
unmourned, useless to advertisers, and
antithetical to network effects that feed a successful business.
Facebook bought WhatsApp: $18b
Why? WhatsApp is free
50bilion daily messages
Facebook IM client specific to mobile
1. So why are FBK buying WhatsApp?
2. Is there a market for free messages?
3. Is Facebook a monopoly?
Answers: No, No, No – say “experts”
Who owns the experts?
€1trillion research question
Why do social networks decline?
Is the visceral nature of offline social networking
responsible for success online
dating sites approximate strong human contact better:
Facebook, Tindr – Twitter?
Or bad code, European data protection
and a more ‘aspirational’ demographic
Facebook v. MySpace/Bebo
Experts have severely
criticized timing and
content of FTC settlement
proposal to EC Feb 2013
Immediately rejected by
Google FTC and EC cases
Source: Google proposal leaked to SearchEngineLand, 25/4/13
Settled with US FTC 3/1/2013
• “If the final FTC statement had been any more
favourable to Google
• I’d be checking the file metadata
• to see whether Google wrote it.”
Internet Science: evidence-based policy
Until we have empirical evidence
how personal data control affects social networking business
We are arguing from old economic models that we
know to be inappropriate
New tools and methods need developing:
Neuro-scientists and evolutionary economists
Developing study of code regulation
Similarities and cross-over with
web science/graph theory
EC Network of Excellence on Internet Science