Re-imagining Privacy in the Age of Technical and Social Disruption
Re-imagining Privacy in the Age of Technical and Social Disruption


Is privacy dead? Or still there are ways through which it can be ensured that individuals' privacy is maintained in this digital age of hyper connectivity. In this talk Dr Waseem Akhtar outlines ideas that employ the concept of Level of Abstraction (LoA) while finding meaning in information, to limit analysis of datasets to ensure privacy. LoA can be used to restrict people, organisations and algorithms so that while analysing datasets, information only at the permitted LoA is extracted; datasets are not analysed and mined for the information that is beyond the permitted LoA. It has widely been reported in literature that datasets are regularly mined to extract information that is well beyond the original, transparently stated purpose of capturing data. This may include finding patterns and personality traits using digital footprints of unsuspecting and unaware individuals. Locking a dataset to a particular, clearly described, thoroughly understood and mutely agreed LoA should ensure that the datasets are not used to extract information beyond clearly stated purpose for which data is originally captured. An obvious challenge is how to make it transparent so that organisations don’t use long and hard to read and difficult to understand “terms & policies of use” to avoid locking of datasets. Such terms and policies should be tied to clearly stated LoA and any further use must require getting further permissions. This presents a challenge that should be addressed by developing and establishing innovative ethical norms. Question is are we ready to reimagine privacy, and discuss, debate and establish new ethical norms. Organisations and systems that rely on the power they acquire, by mining datasets they hold, for any information and insights they deem beneficial will consider such attempts a major threat. This talk aims to trigger deep thinking on the topics, questions and challenges mentioned above.


Dr. Waseem Akhtar is Head of Computing Science faculty at Griffith College Dublin. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from University College Dublin (UCD) and an MBA in Higher Education Management from University College London (UCL). Waseem's current research interests focus on multidisciplinary topics such Big Data Analytics based Business, Process and Management Intelligence Systems, Evidence and Analytics Based Management, Robotic Process Automation and other applications of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data Analytics. His research interests also include software development for large & complex systems and studying the fundamental nature of information. Waseem is also interested in science communication, history and dissemination of knowledge and studying the impact of emerging technologies on the future of humanity.

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