4 June 2014

The rise of audits and/or investigations by national data protection authorities in cloud computing

I have recently written my current research where I am exploring the rise of audits and/or investigations by national data protection authorities in cloud computing. This is a socio-legal research project which forms part of the Accountability for Cloud research project.

'Rethinking Relations and Regimes of Power in Online Social Networking Sites: Tales of Control, Strife, and Negotiations in Facebook and Youtube.'

For those of you who are interested in my doctoral thesis, I have included the abstract below: 

This doctoral thesis investigates the potentially complex power effects generated in Online Social Networking Sites (‘OSNS’), such as YouTube and Facebook, when legal values, such as copyright and personal data, are protected and/or violated. In order to develop this analysis, in Chapter Two, I critically analyse key academic writings on internet regulation and argue that I need to move away from the dominant ‘regulatory’ lens to my Actor-Network Theory-Foucauldian Power Lens (‘ANT-Foucauldian Power Lens’) in order to be able to capture the potentially complex web of power effects generated in YouTube and Facebook when copyright and personal data are protected and/or violated. In Chapter Three, I develop my ANT-Foucauldian Power Lens and explore how key ANT ideas such as translation can be used in conjunction with Foucauldian ideas such as governmentality. I utilise my ANT-Foucauldian Power Lens in Chapters Four to Seven to analyse how YouTube and Facebook are constructed as heterogeneous, contingent and precarious ‘actor-networks’ and I map in detail the complex power effects generated from specific local connections. I argue five key points. Firstly, I suggest that complex, multiple, and contingent power effects are generated when key social, legal, and technological actants are locally, contingently, and precariously ‘fitted together’ in YouTube and Facebook when copyright and personal data are protected and/or violated. Secondly, I argue that ‘materialities’ play key roles in maintaining the power effects generated by specific local connections. Thirdly, I argue that there are close links between power and ‘spatialities’ through my analysis of the Privacy Settings and Tagging in Facebook. Fourthly, I argue that my relational understandings of YouTube and Facebook generate a more comprehensive view of the power effects of specific legal elements such as how specific territorial laws in YouTube gain their authority by virtue of their durable and heterogeneous connections. Finally, I argue that we can extrapolate from my empirical findings to build a small-scale theory about the power effects generated in OSNS when legal values are protected and/or violated. Here I also consider the contributions made by my research to three distinct fields, namely, internet regulation, socio-legal studies, and actor-network theory.

Hiatus in blogging + a fancy new title (of sorts!) = doctoral thesis?

My apologies for the very long hiatus in blogging!! What can I say?! The submission of the doctoral thesis was a very laborious, painful, and slow process which required all my attention!! Hence, I had to give blogging a rest as blogging on any day was far more appealing than re-editing the pesky doctoral thesis chapters yet again!!

Anyway! As you can guess from my fancy new title (of sorts!): thesis has been submitted and have been successfully vivaed! Huzzay!I have walked through the fields of barley as the west wind moved for so many years. I have stayed even when promises were broken! Surely, I have now reached the fields of gold?! It does not seem quite so... Fear not, just like La Fontaine`s prudent ant, I shall slog on till I have reached the ever so elusive fields of gold. It is not time yet to say 'adieu veau, vache, cochon, couvee' (La Fontaine).

26 February 2013

Irish Data Protection Commissioner`s audit of Facebook

Dear All

Apologies for the long hiatus in blogging!! Unfortunately, the doctorate and my part-time job are keeping me pretty busy and away from blogging!!

Normal duties will definitely resume once I submit the doctoral thesis later this year!!

For those of you who fervently keep abreast of the privacy issues related to Facebook, my upcoming talk at the Kent Critical Law Society Conference 2013 may be of interest. I will present a paper entitled

15 August 2011

Changes in LinkedIn privacy settings relating to social advertising

I found out today that LinkedIn has changed its privacy settings relating to social advertising without notice. Basically, the default setting for social advertising allows LinkedIn to use the name and picture of LinkedIn users in adverts and promotions. 

You can opt out of this by applying the following steps:

1. In the right corner, select 'Settings' under your name
2. Go to 'Account' and select 'Manage Social Advertising'
3. Disable the box which states 'LinkedIn may use my name & photo in social advertising'

It never ceases to surprise me how sneakily social media platforms such as Facebook change their privacy settings without notifying their users whose data becomes visible to all and sundry until they become aware of this!! Opting out of any changes to the privacy settings of social media platforms should be the default position rather than the converse!

20 July 2011

Beyond RIPA, privacy and hacking: the ramifications of the hacking enquiry by the UK Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee

Yesterday was the day eagerly awaited by all of us following the News Inc phone hacking scandal.
The UK Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee ('the Select Committee') had the difficult task of conducting an inquiry in a case that is still under police investigation. This can, of course, close certain avenues for questioning but could still have been an important forum to ask the key figures caught into the recent phone hacking scandal the key questions. Disappointingly apart from the very good lines of questioning by Tom Watson and Louise Mensch, the rest of the Select Committee failed to pin down the evasive, long-winded answers and the non-answers. But this was perhaps to be expected in many ways. The forthcoming judge-led inquiry and current police investigation will shed more light on the ins and outs of the scandal and whether the current state of affairs is merely the tip of the iceberg or as bad as it will get.

As a lawyer, I am, of course very interested to find out the legal ramifications of any breaches of RIPA 2000 and privacy which will be uncovered in the coming months.  Incidentally, the Guardian provides a quick guide to the RIPA regulatory framework on hacking. Additionally, the evidence given by the Murdochs reveals a wider issue of corporate governance at News International as many crucial actions (e.g. payments of large sums of money, payment of the legal fees of Mulcaire, alleged hacking) fell under the radar of those who are at the very top of the company. To what extent can such vague answers such as 'payments were not within my remit' (a la Rebekah Brooks) or 'I was not aware of this' (in Murdoch senior`s softer tone) or 'this is an interesting question but...' (a la James Murdoch) show that the senior executives at News International exercised the proper level of care required? As much as this scandal has revealed the inextricable links between the various institutions invovled, it has also highlighted that the phone hacking scandal goes much further than RIPA, privacy and Jude Law.

22 March 2011

The right to oblivion in a Facebook world!

I attended the very instructive seminar organised by the Westminster Media Forum today on privacy, social media platforms and the right to be forgotten. The idea of the 'right to be forgotten' has been promoted by Viviene Reding (VP of the EU Commission) recently and has attracted a number of strong and diversion reactions (e.g. Tessa Mayes` recent article on the subject in the Guardian).

There were a number of key actors from different provenance in the hot seat today at the WMF to discuss this very issue such as the Information Commissioner (Christopher Graham), privacy experts such as Caspar Bowden (Microsoft) and Georgina Nelson (Which?), academics such as Dr Chris Pounder, and interested parties such as Jim Killock (ORG) and Tessa Mayes. The full list of speakers can be found here.

Three crucial points emerged from the discussion in my view. Firstly,  privacy (or rather the expectation of privacy) is very much contingent of the specific setting (i.e. the specific SNS) and its technological capabilities (e.g. is the privacy expectation in Twitter the same as the privacy expectation in Facebook?). A second important point emerging from the seminar is the commodification of data and the impact of data monetisation on privacy expectations (i.e. users are foregoing their data for the benefit of enjoying free access to all the services offered by SNS). Finally, the old issue of education surfaced and many speakers argued that a key component of the solution to the privacy issues raised by SNS rested on educating users about privacy issues in SNS (i.e. what should their expectation be? how can they protect their privacy efficiently etc).

CyberPanda thinks that there is a lot of merit in the idea of a right to be forgotten. On a theoretical level, it puts the 'power' (term used loosely here) back in the hands of the users who have more than a mere right to object to data processing and places more evidential burdens on data controllers. However on a practical level, this raises many issues including the old issue of how to enforce EU laws against a US-based company, and also whether the right to be forgotten is enough to deal comprehensively with the whole array of issues raised by SNS (e.g. what is the expectation of privacy for data which the data controller can prove that it needs?).

16 November 2010

16.10.10 Weekly Cyber-Law News Round-Up

Another exciting week in the world of cyber-law with BT & Talk Talk being granted judicial review in relation to the Digital Economy Act, many proposals for legal measures from the Commission/Parliament relating to data protection and privacy, and the Parliament`s objection to the use of trademarks as Adwords. CyberPanda wonders what the impact of this opposition will mean in practice when it comes to the laws relating to keywords. Here is my personal pick of the week:

·         Larry Lessig Calls For #WIPO To Lead Overhaul Of #Copyright System | IP Watch http://bit.ly/9qAHtp

·         Court Recognizes That DMCA Process Goes Against Basic Copyright Concepts” http://bit.ly/dos8eu

Digital Economy Act
·         Court grants fourth ground for Digital Economy review http://is.gd/h9rzM

·         Future of Digital Economy Act 'in limbo' until next year, say lawyers http://ow.ly/38j13

·         BT & TalkTalk granted judicial review of Digital Economy Act- what does it mean for file sharers? http://bit.ly/92lvxf
Data Protection & Privacy

·         Call to enforce EC strategy for data protection http://ow.ly/3a3IS #dataprotection #in

·         Summary of Draft Department of Commerce Privacy Green Paper http://ow.ly/3a2RK

·         Facebook, Background Checks and Job Applications http://bit.ly/9yyhN5 #privacy

·         Police recruits screened for digital dirt on Facebook, etc. http://usat.ly/avu0uQ #privacy

·         Swedes' emails to be stored for six months http://ht.ly/38lH2

·         Comparative Chart: Divergencies between Data Protection Laws in the EU. http://bit.ly/c0jbCp

·         Dangers of the Commission`s proposal to include the right to be forgotten in data protection laws http://ow.ly/38J6r

·         European Parliament proposes tough behavioural ad rules http://ow.ly/38j4c

·         Information Commissioner says new laws that impact on privacy should undergo post-legislative scrutiny http://bit.ly/cR1Jdj

·         ECJ holds unqualified legal requirement to disclose personal data on website violates right to privacy and data... http://j.mp/9nXWAC


·         Palestinian blogger arrested for criticism of Islam on Facebook - Global Voices Advocacy - http://goo.gl/qUao6 #censorship

Unfair Competition
·         European Parliament joins French traders in opposing use of rival brands as keywords http://ow.ly/39QkR

1 November 2010

Weekly Cyber-Law News Round-Up

What a week it has been!! Here are my personal picks of the highlights of last week`s news which relate to internet law. As always privacy and intellectual property issues are dominating the legal landscape of cyber-law news!

Intellectual Property
· Google clarifies AdWords policy to satisfy French competition regulator http://bit.ly/atAR6g
· Google's 'copied Java code' disowned by Apache #androidlawsuit http://ow.ly/32pPL
· Great and thorough analysis of Viacom v YouTube and impact of safe harbour #copyright #DMCA #Viacom= #YouTube #in http://ow.ly/30Jtk
· Google Goes After YouTubeSocial For #Trademark Infringement
· UK MPs question Google over Street View data breaches #privacy #in http://ow.ly/32pV7
· MPs accuse Google on wi-fi data http://bbc.in/aOjlTC
· FTC sends letter to Google - drops Google WiFi case, but tells Google its privacy processes are inadequate #privacy http://bit.ly/aPEQcL
· Google says its cars grabbed e-mails, passwords http://ow.ly/2Zpnj #privacy
· Italy Orders #Google To Clearly Label Street View Cars, Advertise Routes http://ow.ly/2Zpjn
· Regulators closing in on Google http://ow.ly/2ZsLf #StreetView #privacy
· Google investigated over household data privacy breaches by ICO http://ow.ly/2YLpq
· Turkey lifts two-year ban on YouTube #censorship #regionalblocking http://ow.ly/32pVY
· Great and thorough analysis of Viacom v YouTube and impact of safe harbour #copyright #DMCA #Viacom= #YouTube #in http://ow.ly/30Jtk
· Google Goes After YouTubeSocial For #Trademark Infringement
· Facebook app developers sold user info http://ow.ly/32q21 #privacy #in
· Facebook locks down private user data after app controversy #privacy #in http://ow.ly/32pSA
· Court Orders Disclosure of Facebook and MySpace Passwords in Personal Injury Case
· Facebook Allows Users To Turn Off Group Chat http://ow.ly/2ZpvT
· Firesheep Exposes Flaw In #Facebook Log-In Security http://ow.ly/2Zptw #security
Intellectual Property
· Facebook Files for #Patent on Inferential Ad Targeting http://ow.ly/30Jm8
· Facebook comes down hard on Faceporn for #trademark infringement http://ow.ly/2YLk2
· As LimeWire Shuts Its Doors, Other P2P Clients See a Surge in Usage #copyright #in #filesharing http://ow.ly/32pWO
· Limewire shuts down after receiving permanent injunction #copyright http://ow.ly/308HB
Other Intellectual Property News
· Twitter Issues New Guidelines for the Tweet Trademark http://ow.ly/32pXh #trademark #in
· Apple sues Motorola over smartphone #patents http://ow.ly/32pQH
· Taiwanese company threatens Apple with legal action over iPad name #trademark http://ow.ly/30J6r
Other Privacy News
· Berlin Privacy Commissioner Dix proposes principle of Anonymization and Pseudonymization. #OECD30 #privacy
· #EFF Urges EU Data Protection Authorities to Call for the Repeal of the EU Data Retention Directive http://ow.ly/2ZpfB #dataretention
Personal Jurisdiction
· Email and phone contacts help to establish personal jurisdiction in US case VEDICSOFT v. MILLENNIUM CONSULTING http://bit.ly/9lTaZ6
· Hoteliers Look to Shield Themselves From Dishonest Online Reviews http://ow.ly/2Zpq4
· Emergency Powers in Cyberspace http://ow.ly/32pRE #cyber-warfare
· US Air Force #cyberwarfare manual goes public http://ow.ly/2ZpiB

24 September 2010

Weekly Cyber-Law News Round

Wow this week has flown by so quickly: where did it all go?!! It has been quite exciting week in terms of legal developments in the area of cyberspace. The usual suspects are in the news: Google Street View, Facebook, piracy, and privacy. But it has also been a week of great significance for copyright laws in the UK (adoption of the Gallo report), and some surprising developments in trademarks law (woman claiming trademark protection for her name).

My pick of the top cyber-law news for this week in descending chronological order:

  • Google's 'Street View' banned for privacy invasion Czech Republic's privacy watchdog says Google http://bit.ly/cgJrA9
  • US Autodesk decision gives software company the tool to prevent the resale of licensed software by unauthorised third parties http://tinyurl.com/33u2bev #in
  • Google's new Transparency Report logs government requests for personal info, takedown requests and blocking: http://bit.ly/dueLKf
  • Lawyers Sued Over Blog Posts Criticizing Referral Hotline for Personal Injury Cases http://is.gd/flsUg
  • Woman Trademarks Her Name, Says No One Can Use It Without Her Permission http://ow.ly/2GSXx
Hope you guys enjoy the new weekly cyber-law news round!