(Un)Lawful Access: Vancouver Premiere & Panel Discussion

Image courtesy of UnlawfulAccess.Net

I’ll be presenting at a panel discussion on Canada’s forthcoming lawful access legislation this Thursday, January 12. It looks to be a terrific panel, and includes British Columbia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, the BBCLA’s policy director, Michael Vonn, the producer of the documentary (Un)Lawful Access, Dr. Kate Milberry, and myself. Andrew Clement, professor at the University of Toronto and co-producer of (Un)Lawful Access will be moderating. In addition to a panel discussion, Drs. Milberry and Clement will be showing their documentary, (Un)Lawful Access, and the BCCLA will be revealing their report on lawful access. I’ve contributed research to the report, with my focus being on how lawful access powers are taken up and used by governments and authorities in the US and UK.

It should be a terrific event. If you’re in the area I highly recommend attending. Information is available at the event’s Facebook page and below:

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Recording of ‘Traffic Analysis, Privacy, and Social Media’

The abstract for my presentation, as well as references, have already been made available. I wasn’t aware (or had forgotten) that all the presentations from Social Media Camp Victoria were going to be recorded and put on the web, but thought that others visiting this space might be interested in my talk. The camera is zoomed in on me, which means you miss some of the context provided by slides and references to people in the audience as I was talking. (Having quickly looked/listened to some of what I say, I feel as though I’m adopting a presentation style similar to a few people I watch a lot. Not sure how I think about that…The inability to actually walk around – being tethered to the mic and laptop – was particularly uncomfortable, which comes across in my body language, I think.)

Immediately after my presentation, Kris Constable of PrivaSecTech gives a privacy talk on social media that focuses on the inability to control personal information dissemination. Following his presentation, the two of us take questions from the audience for twenty or thirty minutes.


References for ‘Putting the Meaningful into Meaningful Consent’

By Stephanie BoothDuring my presentation last week at Social Media Club Vancouver – abstract available! – I drew from a large set of sources, the majority of which differed from my earlier talk at Social Media Camp Victoria. As noted earlier, it’s almost impossible to give full citations in the middle of a talk, but I want to make them available post-talk for interested parties.

Below is my keynote presentation and list of references. Unfortunately academic paywalls prevent me from linking to all of the items used, to say nothing of chapters in various books. Still, most of the articles should be accessible through Canadian university libraries, and most of the books are in print (if sometimes expensive).

I want to thank Lorraine Murphy and Cathy Browne for inviting me and doing a stellar job of publicizing my talk to the broader media. It was a delight speaking to the group at SMC Vancouver, as well as to reporters and their audiences across British Columbia and Alberta.

Keynote presentation [20.4MB; made in Keynote ’09]


Bennett, C. (1992). Regulating Privacy: Data Protection and Public Policy in Europe and the United States. Ithica: Cornell University Press.

Bennett, C. (2008).  The Privacy Advocates:  Resisting the Spread of Surveillance.  Cambridge, Mass:  The MIT Press.

Carey, R. and Burkell, J. (2009). ‘A Heuristics Approach to Understanding Privacy-Protecting Behaviors in Digital Social Environments’, in I. Kerr, V. Steeves, and C. Lucock (eds.). Lessons From the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society. Toronto: Oxford University Press. 65-82.

Chew, M., Balfanz, D., Laurie, B. (2008). ‘(Under)mining Privacy in Social Networks’, Proceedings of W2SP Web 20 Security and Privacy: 1-5.

Fischer-Hübner, S., Sören Pettersson, J. and M. Bergmann, M. (2008). “HCI Designs for Privacy-Enhancing Identity Management’, in A. Acquisti and S. Gritzalis (eds.). Digital Privacy: Theory, Technologies, and Practices. New York: Auerbach Publications. 229-252.

Flaherty, D. (1972). Privacy in Colonial England. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia.

Hoofnagle, Chris; King, Jennifer; Li, Su; and Turow, Joseph. (2010). “How different are young adults from older adults when it comes to information privacy attitudes and policies?” available at: http://www.ftc.gov/os/comments/privacyroundtable/544506-00125.pdf

Karyda, M., Koklakis, S. (2008). ’Privacy Perceptions among Members of Online Communities‘, in A. Acquisti and S. Gritzalis (eds.). Digital Privacy: Theory, Technologies, and Practices. New York: Auerbach Publications, 253-266.

Kerr, I., Barrigar, J., Burkell, J, and Black K. (2009). ‘Soft Surveillance, Hard Consent: The Law and Psychology of Engineering Consent’, in I. Kerr, V. Steeves, and C. Lucock (eds.). Lessons From the Identity Trail: Anonymity, Privacy and Identity in a Networked Society. Toronto: Oxford University Press. 5-22.

Marwick, A. E., Murgia-Diaz, D., and Palfrey Jr., J. G. (2010). ‘Youth, Privacy and Reputation (Literature Review)’. Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2010-5; Harvard Law Working Paper No. 10-29. URL: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1588163

O’Reilly, T, and Battelle, J. (2008), ‘Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On’. Presented at Web 2.0 Summit 2009, at http://www.web2summit.com/web2009/public/schedule/detail/10194

Steeves, V. (2009). ‘Reclaiming the Social Value of Privacy‘, in I. Kerr, V. Steeves, and C. Lucock (eds). Privacy, Identity, and Anonymity in a Network World: Lessons from the Identity Trail. New York: Oxford University Press.

Steeves, V, and Kerr, I. (2005). ‘Virtual Playgrounds and Buddybots: A Data-Minefield for Tweens‘, Canadian journal of Law and Technology 4(2), 91-98.

Turow, Joseph; King, Jennifer; Hoofnagle, Chris Jay; Bleakley, Amy; and Hennessy, Michael. (2009). “Contrary to what marketers say Americans reject tailored advertising and three activities that enable it,” Available at: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/business/20090929-Tailored_Advertising.pdf

Turow, Joseph. (2007). “Cracking the Consumer Code: Advertisers, Anxiety, and Surveillance in the Digital Age,” in The New Politics of Surveillance and Visibility. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

References for Traffic Analysis, Privacy, and Social Media

the-droids-youre-searching-forIn my presentation at Social Media Camp Victoria (abstract available!), I drew heavily from various academic literatures and public sources. Given the nature of talks, it’s nearly impossible to cite as you’re talking without entirely disrupting the flow of the presentation. This post is an attempted end-run/compromise to that problem: you get references and (what was, I hope) a presentation that flowed nicely!

There is a full list of references below, as well as a downloadable version of my keynote presentation (sorry powerpoint users!). As you’ll see, some references are behind closed academic paywalls: this really, really, really sucks, and is an endemic problem plaguing academia. Believe me when I say that I’m as annoyed as you are that the academic publishing system locks up the research that the public is paying for (actually, I probably hate it even more than you do!), but unfortunately I can’t do much to make it more available without running afoul of copyright trolls myself. As for books that I’ve drawn from, there are links to chapter selections or book reviews where possible.

Keynote presentation [4.7MB; made in Keynote ’09]


Breyer, P. (2005). ’Telecommunications Data Retention and Human Rights: The Compatibility of Blanket Traffic Data Retention with the ECHR‘. European Law Journal 11: 365-375.

Chew, M., Balfanz, D., Laurie, B. (2008). ‘(Under)mining Privacy in Social Networks’, Proceedings of W2SP Web 20 Security and Privacy: 1-5.

Danezis, G. and Clayton, R. (2008). ‘Introducing Traffic Analysis‘, in A. Acquisti, S. Gritzalis, C. Lambrinoudakis, and S. D. C. di Vimercati (eds.). Digital Privacy: Theory, Technologies, and Practices. New York: Auerback Publications. 95-116.

Elmer, G. (2004). Profiling Machines: Mapping the Personal Information Economy. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.

Friedman, L. M. (2007). Guarding Life’s Dark Secrets: Legal and Social Controls over Reputation, Propriety, and Privacy. Stanford: Stanford University Press. [Excellent book review of text]

Gandy Jr., O. H. (2006). ‘Data Mining, Surveillance, and Discrimination in the Post-9/11 Environment‘, in K. D. Haggerty and R. V. Ericson (eds.). The New Politics of Surveillance and Visibility. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 79-110. [Early draft presented to the Political Economy Section, IAMCR, July 2002]

Kerr, I. (2002). ‘Online Service Providers, Fidelity, and the Duty of Loyalty‘, in T. Mendina and B. Rockenback (eds). Ethics and Electronic Information. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Press.

Mitrou, L. (2008). ’Communications Data Retention: A Pandora’s Box for Rights and Liberties‘, in A. Acquisti, S. Gritzalis, C. Lambrinoudakis, and S. D. C. di Vimercati (eds.). Digital Privacy: Theory, Technologies, and Practices. New York: Auerbach Publications, 409-434.

Rubinstein, I., Lee, R. D., Schwartz, P. M. (2008). ‘Data Mining and Internet Profiling: Emerging Regulatory and Technological Approaches‘. University of Chicago Law Review 75 261.

Saco, D. (1999). ‘Colonizing Cyberspace: National Security and the Internet’, in J. Weldes, M. Laffey, H. Gusterson, and R. Duvall (eds). Cultures of Insecurity: States, Communities, and the Production of Danger. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 261-292. [Selection from Google Books]

Simmons, J. L. (2009). “Buying You: The Government’s Use of Forth-Parties to Launder Data about ‘The People’,” in Columbia Business Law Review 2009/3: 950-1012.

Strandburg, K. J. (2008). ’Surveillance of Emergent Associations: Freedom of Associations in a Network Society‘, in A. Acquisti, S. Gritzalis, C. Lambrinoudakis, and S. D. C. di Vimercati (eds.). Digital Privacy: Theory, Technologies, and Practices. New York: Auerbach Publications. 435-458.

Winner, L. (1986). The Whale and the Reactor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [Book Review]

Zittrain, J. (2008). The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It. New Haven: Yale University Press. [Book Homepage]

Forthcoming Talk at Social Media Camp Victoria

Social-Media-LandscapeOn October 3 I’ll be presenting at Social Media Camp Victoria with Kris Constable about a few risks to privacy associated with social media. Kris is a leading Canadian privacy advocate and expert in information security and the operator of PrivaSecTec.

I’ll be talking about the use of traffic analysis and data mining practices that can be used to engage in massive surveillance of social networking environments and the value of drawing links between users rather than investigating the content of communications. The argumentative ‘thrust’ is that freedoms of expression and association may offer a approach to secure privacy in the face of weakened search laws. The full abstract can be read below.


Citizens are increasingly moving their communications and forms of expression onto social media environments that encourage both public and private collaborative efforts. Through social media, individuals can reaffirm existing relationships, give birth to new and novel communities and community-types, and establish the classical political advocacy groups that impact government decisions and processes. In coming together online for their various reasons, citizens expect that their capacity to engage with one another should, and in some respect does, parallel their expectations of privacy in the analogue world.

In this presentation, I first outline expectations and realities of privacy on and offline, with an emphasis on data traffic (i.e. non-content) analysis born from Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), and SIGINT’s use in civilian governmental practices. I then proceed to outline, in brief, how social media generally can be used to identify associations and a few reasons why such associations can undermine the communicative privacy expected and needed for the long-term survival of vibrant constitutional democracies. Rather than ending on a note of doom and gloom, however, I suggest a novel way of approaching privacy-related problems stemming from massive traffic data analysis in social media networks. While the language of freedom from unjustified searches is often used to resist traffic analysis, I draw from recent privacy scholarship to suggest that freedom of expression and association offers a novel (and possibly superior) approach to defending privacy interests in social media from SIGINT-based surveillance.

Canadian Telecom Summit and DPI

telecomtowerFor the past little while I’ve been (back) in Ontario trying to soak up as much information as I could about telecommunications and deep packet inspection. I was generously given the opportunity to attend the Canadian Telecommunications Summit by Mark Goldberg a while ago, and it was an amazing experience. I found that the new media panel, where broadcasters and carriers came together to discuss their (often contrasting) modes of disseminating content offered some real insights into the approaches to media on the ‘net. It demonstrated very clear contrasts in how new media might operate, and be seen by the Dominant Carriers, into focus for me and really began to provide a broader image of the actual strategies of various parties.

A huge element of the conference surrounded the development of wireless as the new space for innovation. Often unspoken, save for in informal discussions, was that wireline was seen as increasingly outmoded. Most statistics that were formally presented saw wireless overtaking wireline broadband by 2014 or so. This has me wondering about how important it is to examine capital expenses by major broadband providers – while we read that there is massive investment (totaling in the hundreds of millions/billions per year across all carriers), how much is in wireless and how much is in wireline infrastructure?

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