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Locational Data and the Future of Mobile Digital Interaction: Opportunities and Fears

organized by Clare J. Hooper and Lilian Edwards

The Internet and the Web have long depended on the collection of data about people:  such "personal data" in European parlance makes money for e-businesses like Google, Facebook and Amazon and has been described as the "oil" of the Internet economy. Collecting and using  locational data (both personal and non personal) is a newer phenomenon, spurred on in the consumer world by the massive uptake in GPS-equipped smartphones and the growth of the app and social network markets. Already and increasingly in the future, our location will be collected not just by our mobile phones but from our tweets, purchases and check-ins, by our smart meters and smart homes, and by objects we encounter or interact with, for example on holidays. Combining locational and other types of technology and data may eventually give us the "augmented reality" of science fiction dreams.

This future has extravagant potential for improved social utility -- for example, augmented communications, better online gaming, improved environmental control, managed transport systems, better access to health information -- and may even lead to the next stage of interface to the Web generally (for example, see www.guardian.co.uk/technology/appsblog/2011/feb/17/augmented-reality-mobile-apps). But it also brings new problems. The two law members of the panel have both studied the impact on privacy of pervasive collection of data for some time, and the difficulties of regulating to protect privacy in the digital environment -- locational data brings a new twist and a new set of  worries. The panel seeks to explore both the pros and the cons of developing locational data applications and seeks to explore how these two sides -- technology and law -- can talk to each other to anticipate the best way to go forward.

The panelists

Lilian Edwards

Lilian Edwards

Lilian Edwards is a UK academic and frequent speaker on issues of Internet law and intellectual property. She is on the Advisory Board of the Open Rights Group and the Foundation for Internet Privacy Research and is Professor specialising in Internet law at the University of Strathclyde inGlasgow.

 

 

Clare Hooper

Clare Hooper is a computer scientist at the Eindhoven University of Technology. Her recent work has led her to the Web Science community, where she is exploring understanding user experiences and re-providing experiences in new contexts -- for example, by making physical versions of digital interactions. She has long-standing interests in creativity, hypertext and narrative.

Among other things, Clare is interested in the sometimes unpredictable ways in which people use locational technology -- for example, by building 'breadcrumb trails' of locations to tell stories, teach local history, or build unexpected and ludic patterns. She is also intrigued by the mechanisms employed by laypeople for handling privacy with systems such as Gowalla, which involve publishing one's location.

Michael Jewell

Michael Jewell is a research assistant at the University of Southampton, where he is exploring technologies to improve research spaces on the PATINA project. Recently, he has developed ontologies for stories and multimedia in collaboration with the BBC. He was also a developer at Mind Candy where he worked on Perplex City, a long-term Alternate Reality Game, and on Moshi Monsters, a social game for children with over 25 million players.

This combination of experience has built up a strong interest in location-based gaming, and especially the potential for weaving narrative into existing approaches, such as geocaching, mobile gaming, and location publishing - together with the privacy risks that this technology presents.

Derek McAuley

Derek McAuley is Professor of Digital Economy in the School of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham and Director of Horizon, a RCUK funded Digital Economy Research Institute at Nottingham. Derek's personal research contributions have been in the fields of computer architecture, networking, distributed systems, operating systems, virtualization and photonics, while his interdisciplinary interests include issues of ethics, identity, privacy, information policy, legislation and economics within a digital society.

A recent ethnographic study observed two human personal assistants for one day each to consider factors that influence information disclosure, including information derived from location, resulted in a 95 page report that factored in some fairly gnarly issues. We may not be able to use technology to be quite so subtle but we need to move towards understanding the social context in which information derived from location is already shared and move away from the current simplistic "multicast" model...

Judith Rauhofer

Judith Rauhofer is a Lecturer in IT Law at the SCRIPT/AHRC Research Centre for Studies in Intellectual Property and Technology Law at the University of Edinburgh. She specializes in cyberlaw, online privacy and data protection. Judith is dually qualified in Germany and the UK as a Rechtsanwältin and Solicitor respectively and has spent five years working in legal practice. She is a member of the Executive of the British & Irish Law, Education & Technology Association (BILETA) and the Advisory Council of the Open Rights Group.