Center for Information, Society and Policy
"Under Watchful Eyes: The Technologies That Track"
October 5, 2012
"Location, location, location." No, not real estate—data. Location tracking technologies will soon be pervasive. Businesses and governments can use the technologies to follow your every move, to know when you leave your house, what route you take, for how long, and where you stop; it will be possible to record what you look at in a store, for how long, when and how, and where you eat lunch and what you order, how long you linger at the coffee machine, what desks and offices you frequent at work, and on and so on. As one data analyst put it, "We can determine where you work, how you spend your time, and with whom, and with 87% certainty where you'll be next Thursday at 5:35 p.m."
In a much publicized report, the McKinsey Global Institute claims that the systematic use of "personal location data has the potential to provide more than $800 billion in economic value to individual consumers and organizations over the next decade, in the process catalyzing the development of a wide range of innovative businesses across many sectors. Smart navigation applications alone may offer some $500 billion in value to global consumers in time and fuel saved by 2020. Geo-targeted advertising is emerging as a highly effective marketing vehicle that could represent more than 5 percent of total global advertising spending by 2020." Privacy is the price. Justice Sotomayor captured the privacy concern: "a precise, comprehensive record of a person’s public movements that reflects a wealth of detain about her familial, political, professional, religious, and sexual associations."
How do we realize the benefits while preserving sufficient privacy? Indeed, what counts as "sufficient privacy"? This conference will focus on the privacy issues created the ever-increasing use of geo-location data. The conference will analyze how decisions about the balance between privacy and benefits of information processing are made and how they should be made. It will examine the control we do and should have over our information, and the extent to which could and should use technology and the law to gain greater control. Experts participate in three panel discussions: (1) The Present and the Future examines how tracking technologies are used and will be used in the future. (2) Reaping the Benefits, Respecting Privacy considers how we can design geo-location technologies and business models to ensure sufficient respect for privacy; the session will consider what counts as "sufficient respect for privacy." (3) What Is The Right Legal Regime? examines how the law should best respond to the need to protect privacy while realizing the benefits of tracking technologies.
About the Center for Information, Society and Policy
IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law has announced the formation of the Center for Information, Society and Policy, a collaboration among public policy experts at Chicago-Kent and technology experts at Chicago-Kent's parent institution, Illinois Institute of Technology. The center will promote interdisciplinary research into privacy and information security issues raised by developing information technologies.
The new center will pool the expertise of computer scientists, psychologists, lawyers, business experts, and theorists in systems design and human/system interfaces. Emphasis will be placed on forging a shared understanding of the problems at hand and a common language with which to discuss and analyze proposed solutions.
"All too often, policy in the area of information security and privacy has been suggested by attorneys and legislators who lack a sufficient grasp of technological possibilities and limitations," said Chicago-Kent Dean Harold J. Krent. "Conversely, policy advocated by computer scientists generally has been unleavened by legal minds or other public policy analysis.
"Accordingly, prevailing policy analysis often fails to come to grips with either technological or legal constraints, leading to wrong turns in a number of important areas, including regulation of file sharing and regulation of online advertising."
Interdisciplinary task forces will focus on critical, unsolved policy problems that threaten to stymie the full economic potential of the technologies involved. For example, one task force will focus on understanding the psychology of risk assessment in the design of Internet security procedures, combining the expertise of psychologists, computer scientists, and lawyers to assess the ramifications of assigning liability to particular actors once security is compromised.
Another task force will focus on the problem of controlling computer viruses and the challenges of reaching consensus on whether Internet service providers should prevent individuals from accessing the Internet without an updated operating system and virus protection system.
Additional task forces will bring interdisciplinary approaches to problems stemming from cross-border migration of data, the increased ability of governmental and private parties to track usage of mobile electronic services, and the continuing challenges in data mining.
As an engineering-oriented university with top-rated academic units in the relevant areas, IIT brings considerable expertise to this initiative. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Justice some 10 years ago requested that IIT computer scientists and law professors come together to study the operation of the FBI's Internet wiretap tool, then called "Carnivore." The report helped lay the groundwork for substantial revision of FBI methodology in capturing email traffic.