The Symbiotic Web <ul><li>A new model to understand the gathering, use and retention of personal data on the internet  </l...
Symbiosis <ul><li>Where two different kinds of organism exist together in a state of mutual dependence </li></ul><ul><li>S...
The Symbiotic Web <ul><li>Individuals and commercial enterprises are mutually dependent: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enterprises...
The Symbiotic Web Users Web 1.0 Content Providers
User/Contributors Web 2.0 Content Providers The Symbiotic Web
The Symbiotic Web User/Contributors Web 2.5 Content Providers/ Information Gatherers
The Symbiotic Web User/Contributors Web 2.5 Content Providers/ Information Gatherers
A fractured web? <ul><li>Individualised advertising, content - and links </li></ul><ul><li>For search engines, for example...
Key components of the symbiosis <ul><li>Search engines </li></ul><ul><li>Communications providers </li></ul><ul><li>Social...
Competitive drives <ul><li>The understanding by businesses that personal information has commercial value  </li></ul><ul><...
Competitive drives <ul><li>As competition over personal data develops, so do competitive and anti-competitive practices - ...
Consequences <ul><li>A burgeoning market in data - one about which users are being kept deliberately unaware </li></ul><ul...
Solutions? <ul><li>Break the dependence - through stronger, better enforced laws? </li></ul><ul><li>Change the paradigm - ...
<ul><li>Paul Bernal [email_address] </li></ul>
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The Symbiotic Web

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Presentation at BILETA 2009, Winchester

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  • The question is WHY is this happening? Is there something underlying all of this.
  • Even many services which are not ‘free’ are moving towards this kind of symbiotic state, gathering personal data and offering discounts, bonuses or ‘personalised services’ in effective exchange. Why do I call it an ‘uneasy’ symbiosis? Because it isn’t stable, and because one side (the individuals) are essentially unaware of what’s going on - and when they are, they often object.
  • How did this come about? One way to look at is to consider the functional evolution of the web from the very beginning. At first, an information bank. Content providers put information up on the web, users accessed that information.
  • The change to ‘Web 2.0’ is characterised largely by a transformation in the users - rather than just accessing information, they begin to provide information themselves. Blogs, wikis, social networking sites, YouTube etc, expansions in old-fashioned message boards.
  • The change to web 2.5 - the symbiotic web - is characterised by a converse transformation in the erstwhile content providers. Now, not only do they provide information, but they gather information from people who visit their sites.
  • This information is then used, amongst other things, to ‘tailor’ their websites to the individual users - starting with targetted advertising and specifically chosen links, moving on to individualised content. This effectively fractures the web.
  • Nightmare visions like ‘whites-only websites’ become possible. Very different from Sunstein’s vision in that it’s not determined by people’s choices, but by the way things are chosen for people - a difference which has a significant effect on possible solutions
  • The role of each of the data gatherers in the Symbiotic Web is slightly different. Profiling, advertising etc.
  • Commerce is behind much of what is happening here
  • Commercially driven
  • Talk about Back-door Balkanisation here - Cas Sunstein’s Republic 2.0
  • The Symbiotic Web

    1. 1. The Symbiotic Web <ul><li>A new model to understand the gathering, use and retention of personal data on the internet </li></ul><ul><li>It helps explain: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why so much data is gathered </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The principle commercial uses to which it is put </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some of the ways it might be used in the future </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why so much data collection and use is covert </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The difficulties our legal and regulatory systems have in controlling it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The threats to our privacy and autonomy that arise through it </li></ul></ul>
    2. 2. Symbiosis <ul><li>Where two different kinds of organism exist together in a state of mutual dependence </li></ul><ul><li>Symbiosis can be mutually beneficial - but can also become parasitic, and detrimental to one or both of the parties </li></ul>
    3. 3. The Symbiotic Web <ul><li>Individuals and commercial enterprises are mutually dependent: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enterprises have built business models reliant on a currency of private data </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Individuals depend on ‘free’ access to many services - from search engines to price comparison web sites, email to YouTube </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. The Symbiotic Web Users Web 1.0 Content Providers
    5. 5. User/Contributors Web 2.0 Content Providers The Symbiotic Web
    6. 6. The Symbiotic Web User/Contributors Web 2.5 Content Providers/ Information Gatherers
    7. 7. The Symbiotic Web User/Contributors Web 2.5 Content Providers/ Information Gatherers
    8. 8. A fractured web? <ul><li>Individualised advertising, content - and links </li></ul><ul><li>For search engines, for example, different search results - or search results in a different order </li></ul><ul><li>Overall, the effect is more than just on the individual page, but on the navigation and the whole web experience </li></ul><ul><li>Potential benefits, but not in the control of the user </li></ul>
    9. 9. Key components of the symbiosis <ul><li>Search engines </li></ul><ul><li>Communications providers </li></ul><ul><li>Social Networking Sites </li></ul><ul><li>Geographic services – Google Maps etc </li></ul><ul><ul><li>And geolocation services on smartphones etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Media providers/Services - YouTube etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Commercial services – from shops and auction sites to price comparison sites </li></ul>
    10. 10. Competitive drives <ul><li>The understanding by businesses that personal information has commercial value </li></ul><ul><li>Organisations gather more and more data, not just for specific current or planned uses, but speculatively </li></ul><ul><li>Once the data has been gathered, there is a drive to find more uses for it, to take advantage of your ‘assets’ </li></ul><ul><li>New businesses developed for aggregation and profile generation - and to help other businesses use data </li></ul>
    11. 11. Competitive drives <ul><li>As competition over personal data develops, so do competitive and anti-competitive practices - alliances, cartels etc Beacon and Phorm are prime examples </li></ul><ul><li>Drive for more ‘tailored’ services - and potentially price or service discrimination </li></ul><ul><li>The need for covertness - when customers know what is happening, they often object - Beacon and Phorm are again examples. Opt-out, rather than opt-in, is the norm </li></ul><ul><li>As competition increases and margins fall, less attention may be paid to ‘ethics’ </li></ul>
    12. 12. Consequences <ul><li>A burgeoning market in data - one about which users are being kept deliberately unaware </li></ul><ul><li>Much more data is being held - and hence is vulnerable </li></ul><ul><li>New data types are emerging - profiling data in particular - which have more significant vulnerabilities </li></ul><ul><li>New kinds of risks are emerging - ‘Back-door Balkanisation’ is just one example </li></ul>
    13. 13. Solutions? <ul><li>Break the dependence - through stronger, better enforced laws? </li></ul><ul><li>Change the paradigm - effectively give up on privacy. Accept that this is happening, enjoy the positives, penalise excesses. </li></ul><ul><li>Do very little - allow norms and markets to redress the balance. </li></ul><ul><li>Weaken the dependence, but support the symbiosis - strengthen the rights of individuals, particularly in terms of information, consent and choice </li></ul>
    14. 14. <ul><li>Paul Bernal [email_address] </li></ul>

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