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Who Are the Privacy Advocates?: From CIPPIC to Sousveillance
David Matheson, Post-Doctoral Fellow at Carleton University, introduced the final panel of privacy advocates. This panel comprised Colin Bennett, Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Victoria; Steve Mann, Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto; Philippa Lawson, Executive Director, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC); and Stefan Brands, Adjunct Professor, McGill University, School of Computer Science.
Colin Bennett talked about his new research project in a presentation titled "Privacy Advocacy and Activism: Spotlighting Surveillance Practices in a Networked World." He reviewed a number of background assumptions including globalization, a proliferation of policy instruments (regulatory instruments, self-regulatory instruments, technological instruments, transnational instruments) and the increased frequency of resistance to surveillance practices. He provided a typology of advocacy coalitions to demonstrate how privacy activism is embedded within other groups (e.g. civil liberties, Internet rights, human rights, consumer rights, software provider advocates, academic advocates etc.).
Steve Mann presented his concept of "Equiveillance: The equilibrium between Surveillance and Sous-veillance." He reflected on the contrast between surveillance and sousveillence at a number of different levels.. He described his experiences as an inventor and played some videos of his sousveillance work in department stores.
Philippa Lawson gave a presentation titled "Privacy Activism in Canada: CIPPIC's Approach". She described why privacy advocacy work is so important: the hidden nature of violations, power imbalance, law lags business practices and technology, individuals not having the time or energy to pursue complaints, and privacy commissioners in many conflicting roles. She provided an overview of CIPPIC's approaches to advocacy: establishing rights, exercising rights and exposing violations. In terms of technique, CIPPIC acts both reactively and proactively. In fulfilling its mandate, CIPPIC has learned the importance of solid research to back up advocacy, caution in collaborating with adversaries, and that there is no single correct approach to successful public interest advocacy.
Stefan Brands closed the panel by likening the current battle of privacy advocates to a rope-pulling effort with an increasingly powerful opponent. The privacy opponent is not driven by evil intent but by globalization, computerization, efficiency imperatives, and a resulting need for better security. He argued that privacy advocates and regulators are hurting the privacy cause by not adequately integrating what he calls Privacy Technology Advocates into privacy debates. He cautioned that many privacy battles and regulatory efforts are based on erroneous assumptions about what technology can and cannot do. He illustrated this by discussing how identity data can be electronically shared across unlinkable domains without destroying the unlinkability. He ended with a plea for regulators and privacy advocates to work more closely with privacy technology advocates in order to make the privacy debate less polarized and thereby help the privacy cause.
Colin Bennett, Privacy Advocacy: A Global Overview
Philippa Lawson, Privacy Activism in Canada: CIPPIC's Approach