Advanced seminar: Privacy and Public Participation – Dataprotection and Crowdsourced Surveillance, Feb 24, 2021

Welcome to an advanced seminar on the topic of Privacy and Public Participation – Dataprotection and Crowdsourced Surveillance with Gerard Jan Ritsema van Eck, Assistant Professor, IT-law department, University of Groeningen, the Netherlands on 24 February 2021 at 13.00 -14.30 (CEST) via Zoom.

Please inform Katarina Fast Lappalainen of your participation by 23 February.

In the last decade, what it means to be private in public has been uprooted by smartphones. When we take these machines with us, we also bring their cameras and other embedded sensors into public spaces. This has led corporations and (local) governments to ‘crowdsource their surveillance; a novel surveillance structure in which data is gathered by dispersed people and processed and used by central actors. Crowdsourced surveillance is a cheap and reasonably easy way to collect data on diverse phenomena, which may otherwise be difficult to quantify, including, for example, traffic congestion trends and generalized feelings of (in)security in certain neighbourhoods. People willingly engage in these surveillance networks because they see it as their civic duty, to obtain some benefit or because they are drawn in by gamified aspects.

This puts a novel and unique pressure on public spaces: the watchful eye of single citizens is connected to powerful actors through both direct means and the opaque algorithms. Privacy protection is necessarily weak in public spaces, but the increase crowdsourced surveillance has a considerable impact on social control in public spaces, which is supercharged by the involvement of the state or large corporations. Apart from making public spaces less open from deviation from existing social norms, the unrestricted involvement by anyone means that prejudice and discrimination can run rampant. In spite of this, European Laws on privacy and data protection fail to provide sufficient guarantees for those concerned.

How can we explain the interactions and occasional mismatches between the legal frameworks for privacy and personal data protection that arise in public spaces, as a result of the rise of crowdsourced surveillance?

During the seminar, Gerard Ritsema van Eck will present his research in the field.

The seminar will be held in English.

Gerard Ritsema van Eck has a background in International Relations, the Arts and Euroculture. He is currently Assistant Professor at the IT-law department of the University of Groeningen, where he specializes in privacy and data protection law. He has recently published a thesis on Privacy and Participation in Public – Data Protection Issues of Crowdsourced Surveillance.

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