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:

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:

O’Reilly, T, and Battelle, J. (2008), ‘Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On’. Presented at Web 2.0 Summit 2009, at

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:

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

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.

On a Social Networking Bill of Rights

I attended this year’s Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference and spent time in sessions on privacy in large data sets, deep packet inspection and network neutrality, the role of privacy in venture capital pitches, and what businesses are doing to secure privacy. In addition, a collection of us worked for some time to produce a rough draft of the Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights that was subsequently discussed and ratified by the conference participants. In this post, I want to speak to the motivations of the Bill of Rights, characteristics of social networking and Bill proper, a few hopeful outcomes resulting from the Bill’s instantiation and conclude by denoting a concerns around the Bill’s creation and consequent challenges for moving it forward.

First, let me speak to the motivation behind the Bill. Social networking environments are increasingly becoming the places where individuals store key information – contact information, photos, thoughts and reflections, video – and genuinely becoming integrated into the political. This integration was particularly poignantly demonstrated last year when the American State Department asked Twitter to delay upgrades that would disrupt service and stem the information flowing out of Iran following the illegitimate election of President Ahmadinejad. Social networks have already been tied into the economic and social landscapes in profound ways: we see infrastructure costs for maintaining core business functionality approaching zero and the labor that was historically required for initiating conversations and meetings, to say nothing of shared authorship, have been integrated into social networking platforms themselves. Social networking, under this rubric, extends beyond sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and encapsulate companies like Google and Yahoo!, WordPress, and Digg, and their associated product offerings. Social networking extends well beyond social media; we can turn to Mashable’s collection of twenty characteristics included in the term ‘social networking’ for guidance as to what the term captures:

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Thinking About a ‘Privacy Commons’

unclesamsurveillanceIn some privacy circles there is a vision of creating a simple method of decoding privacy policies. As it stands, privacy policies ‘exist’ in a nebulous domain of legalese. Few people read these policies, and fewer still understand what they do (and do not) say. The same has traditionally been true of many copyright agreements. To assuage this issue surrounding copyright, the creative commons were created. Privacy groups are hoping to take some of the lessons from the creative commons and apply it to privacy policies.

I need to stress that this is a ‘thinking’ piece – I’ve been bothered by some of the models and diagrams used to express the ‘privacy commons’ because I think that while they’re great academic pieces, they’re nigh useless for the public at large. When I use the term ‘public at large’ and ‘useless’ what I am driving at is this: the creative commons is so good because it put together a VERY simple system that lets people quickly understand what copyright is being asserted over particular works. A privacy commons will live (or, very possibly, die) on its ease of access and use.

So, let’s think about use-value of any mode of description. The key issue with many commons approaches is that they are trying to do way too much all at once. Is there necessarily a need for a uniform commons statement, or is privacy sufficiently complicated that we adopt a medical privacy commons, a banking privacy commons, a social networking privacy commons, and so forth? Perhaps, instead of cutting the privacy cake so granularly (i.e. by market segment) we should try to boil down key principles and then offer real-language explanations for each principle’s application in particular business environments instead. This division of the commons is a topic that researchers appreciate and struggle with.

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Continuums of Social Media?

socialmedialandscapeWhile it’s not the core focus of my research, I pay a lot of attention to trends and conversations about social media, and particularly focus on common standards that support the ‘semantic’ capabilities of web-enabled appliances. In this post I want to think about ways of ‘structuring’ social media along a set of continuums/formalized networks and the role of HTML 5’s semantic possibilities in pushing past the present set of social networking environments.

Social Media as a Hub

As shown in the image to the left, social platforms are situated in the middle of a set of larger social media items; platforms are integrative, insofar as they are able to make calls to other social items and enrich the platform. Under a ‘social media as hub’ continuum, we might imagine that ‘spoke-based’ media items facilitate highly targeted uses; while MMORPGs are ‘social’, they are hyper-targeted and meant to maintain their own internal infrastructure.

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Draft – Who Gives a ‘Tweet’ About Privacy?

twittercapacityThis is a full draft of the paper on Twitter and privacy that I’ve been developing over the past few weeks, entitled ‘Who Gives a ‘Tweet’ About Privacy?’ It uses academic privacy literature to examine Twitter and the notion of reasonable expectations of privacy in public, and is written to help nuance privacy discussions surrounding the discourse occuring on Twitter (and, implicitly, similar social networking and blogging sites). The paper focuses on concepts of privacy and, as such, avoids deep empirical analyses of how the term ‘privacy’ is used by particular members of the social networking environment. Further, the paper avoids delving into the web of legal cases that could be drawn on to inform this discussion. Instead, it is theoretically oriented around the following questions:

  1. Do Twitter’s users have reasonable expectations to privacy when tweeting, even though these tweets are the rough equivalent of making statements in public?
  2. If Twitter’s user base should hold expectations to privacy, what might condition these expectations?

The paper ultimately suggests that Daniel Solove’s taxonomy of privacy, most  recently articulated in Understanding Privacy, offers the best framework to respond to these question. Users of Twitter do have reasonable expectations to privacy, but such expectations are conditioned by juridical understandings of what is and is not reasonable. In light of this, I conclude by noting that Solove’s use of law to recognize norms is contestable. Thus, while privacy theorists may adopt his method (a focus on privacy problems to categorize types of privacy infractions), they might profitably condition how and why privacy norms are established – court rulings and dissenting opinions may not be the best foundation upon which to rest our privacy claims – by turning to non-legal understandings of norm development, degeneration, and mutation.

Paper can be downloaded here.