Panel discussion to focus on data privacy and how to protect your information

Data privacy, or the lack thereof, is back on the forefront this week after the leak of classified CIA documents showing everything from cellphones to smart TVs can be accessed.

A panel of data privacy experts will be discussing the significance of online data privacy and what we can do to protect ourselves on Wednesday, March 15 during a forum at Brock University.

“It is important to create opportunities for citizens to consider the data that organizations collect and then analyze about us,” says Karen Louise Smith, Assistant Professor of Communication, Popular Culture and Film. “There are many unseen algorithms that process our data and shape our experiences online, but they operate opaquely and are difficult to understand.”

Smith will join fellow panelist Natasha Tusikov, Adjunct Professor of Sociology, and keynote speaker Andrew Hilts, Executive Director of Open Effect, at the event.

Hilts conducts research and designs software systems to empower citizens to exercise their digital rights. During his talk at Brock, Hilts will share insights from the design of Access My Information, a website that engages users to request their personal data from organizations ranging from the Canadian government to online dating services. Hilts will also share his experiences in making privacy issues understandable and relatable for the general public.

Smith’s research explores the tensions between openness, privacy and participation in a digital world. She previously led a Privacy Badges co-design project with Hive Toronto, and is a collaborator on The eQuality Project to examine issues of privacy and cyberbullying facing youth. Her talk will explore the development of digital policy literacy with youth.

Tusikov, author of the recently published book, Chokepoints: Global Private Regulation on the Internet, will be examining the informal practices and policies by internet firms and the sharing of personal information with third parties.

“Internet companies like eBay routinely share their customers’ personal data with third parties such as law enforcement agencies,” says Tusikov. “However, few people likely realize that these third parties also include private security companies.”

Tusikov says these security companies are in the market of brand-protection — monitoring marketplaces to track down people selling counterfeit goods.

The discussion is being hosted by the Transmedia Research Network within the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film at Brock University and is funded by the Council of Research in the Social Sciences within the Faculty of Social Sciences. It will be held in Brock’s Welch Hall Atrium and is open to the public. Free registration is available on Eventbrite.

What: Data Privacy Activism: A panel discussion on data privacy, digital rights and emerging activism

When: Wednesday, March 15 – 3 to 5 p.m. with reception to follow

Where: Welch Hall Atrium, Brock University

Who: Privacy experts Andrew Hilts, Executive Director at Open Effect; Natasha Tusikov, Adjunct Professor of Sociology; Karen Louise Smith, Assistant Professor of Communication, Popular Culture & Film; Moderator Marian Bredin

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