5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (VIII). Daithí Mac Sithigh: Politics Track Gather Up

Notes from the 5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference: The Pros and Cons of Social Networking Sites, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 6th and 7th, 2009. More notes on this event: idp2009.

Politics Track Gather Up
Daithí Mac Sithigh

Two major questions today: what will we do? how will we stay safe?

Innovation come not by using specific technology or platforms but on the effective uses we put into them.

The safety issue seems not to be approachable by the Law alone, being self-regulation and self-commitment a good share of it, and collaboration and co-operation another good share of it.

In a time of crisis, the international community turns its attention to the Information Society. But this is not about hardware, but about organizational change, institutional change. A major planning has to take place to deal with focal issues like e-commerce, network safety or e-Administration.

We’d do well to learn from sub-national or even local successes in open data initiatives, or data sharing initiatives. And what a different it makes to move from the “e-” Government to the “o-” Government.

And open data might be a necessary step to change not only government but also democracy and politics, to enable citizen participation and engagement.

We’re seeing times where political crisis and financial crisis is accompanied by a demand for transparency, openness, open data, etc. And it looks like broadly demanded political reforms could move towards this direction.

This is, for instance, how Politics 2.0 evolve from Politicians 2.0 towards Political Spaces 2.0.

Politics 2.0 can be presented as a virtuous circle, where everybody is part of that circle, and where the sense of “small” (as in a small issue) can have a brand new meaning (and not be small or irrelevant at all).

Will, hence, the unconventional ways of doing politics become the conventional or mainstream ones? Do we want that?

What is the right agenda? Does a creative use of public information (initially well intended) have bad consequences?

Next steps?

  • W3C Access to Government interest group
  • Pulic Services 2.0 declaration
  • From “come back tomorrow” to “come back next year”?
  • Social networks and social questions

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5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2009)

5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (VII). Political participation and Social Networking Sites

Notes from the 5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference: The Pros and Cons of Social Networking Sites, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 6th and 7th, 2009. More notes on this event: idp2009.

Political participation and Social Networking Sites
Chaired by Ana Sofía Cardenal

Marta Cantijoch, Assistant Professor at the Political Science Department of the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, PolNet research group.

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2428

The distinction amongst citizens is not only between people that participate and that do not participate, but also in how they participate when they do, distinguishing between conventional or unconventional political participation (Political Action Study, 1979), or representational and extra-representational participation (Teorell, Torcal and Montero, 2007): e.g. go to demonstrations, follow calls to boycott products or actions, etc. The latter group is acting outside institutions, thus his political action is not only about a specific position but forms also matter and are plenty of meaning.

In general, we’re seeing a change of attitude where conventional engagement is decreasing (i.e. less people being partisans in a political party) while unconventional politics are increasing. One of the reasons being dissatisfaction towards performance of representative democracy.

Combination of attitudes:

  • Disaffected citizens: dissatisfaction + low involvement = apathy, non, participation
  • Critical citizens: dissatisfaction + involvement = unconventional participation
  • Institutionalized citizens: satisfaction + involvement = conventional participation

Social networking sites provide both a qualitative and a quantitative change: higher amount of available information combined with a higher diversity of discourses; contacts and exchanges in horizontals processes (citizen to citizen) made possible while the control of communication stays in the users’ hands; interactivity.

Social networking sites also represent an open gate towards unsolicited, though relevant, information that affects your peers, or your weak ties, but that (positively) reshapes one’s own context.


  • Tools for citizen empowerment: processes of communication are citizen-initiated (vs. elite directed)
  • Reinforcement / promotion of attitudinal change: non-hierarchical communication processes
  • Impact on critical citizens but also on institutionalized profiles

Internet use fosters unconventional forms of participation, a hypothesis verified for the Spanish case.

New opportunity for formal institutions to reconnect to the public, to try and bring them back to the representative democracy arena. This will of course require an adaptation to web 2.0 technologies in the exchanges with the citizens: abandoning the top-down logic, certain degree of decentralization, and higher granularity of participation.

Nobody knows more than everyone together
José Antonio Donaire, Member of the Catalan Parliament, Catalan Socialist Party.

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2428

Politics 2.0 is not ICT-enhanced politics, or e-Politics. It’s a change of paradigm enabled by a technological change.

Change of paradigm:

  • The crisis of the autoritas, in the case of representative democracy, the crisis of parties, where a minority sets the general agenda in contradiction with a supposed representative democracy. The change should be towards deliberative democracy, the collective intelligence, collaborative work. The more people debate on a subject, the lower the margin of error. But not only to decrease errors: the deliberative process is a goal in itself. Deliberative democracy negates the autoritas and brings the wisdom back to the collective.
  • Adaptation from politics to policies, from the big politics to the policies of shades and the small details.
  • The appearance of complexity, where the same person can have different opinions that not necessarily match the traditional division of left-wing, right-wing or a specific ideology. Multiple identities have to be acknowledged and hence spaces for contact need to be enabled.

How to put this into practice? Different models that can be understood as progressive stages:

  • Politicians 2.0: the members of the Parliament, etc. have twitter or Facebook accounts, write on their blogs, etc. This provides transparency, interaction, a first person communication (despite the vertical discourse of the party), proximity. Politicians 2.0 are, nevertheless, a necessary but not sufficient step towards Politics 2.0
  • Political means 2.0, that enable participation, the collective intelligence, managing the complex, rewarding or recognising meritocracy. A wiki, for instance, can allow most of these aspects. The network also generates autoritas, but it is a well deserved autoritas. The Catalan Parlament 2.0 could be an example of this.
  • Politicized means 2.0, that enable the exchange of ideas, community building and creation of communities, cyberactivism, against particracy. The pros is that people debate seriously, the cons is that they might lead to quasi-parties.
  • Political spaces 2.0: gathering spaces, dialogue and exchange, complex identities, against particracy.

A distinction between direct democracy and deliberative democracy. The Net to directly decide can lead to dangerous outcomes or problems as the NIMBY, lobbying or even taking the whole system as a joke (e.g. the Spanish “efecto Chikilicuatre”, where Spaniards chose a stand-up comedy actor to represent Spain at Eurovision).

But politics will be 2.0 or won’t be.

Ricard Espelt, Copons Town Councillor, in charge of Economic Promotion, New Technologies and Communication.

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2428


[click here to enlarge]

In a small town like Copons, problems are small but real ones, and the traditional solution would be that the citizen would shift the problem towards the city council, which might or might not solve the problem, given their limited resources.

Copons 2.0 aims at bringing the citizen back in the equation.

Problems should be able to be rephrased as alternatives, opportunities, requirements… In any case, a problem should be an excuse for a debate, for an encounter within the town and within citizens themselves.

The Administration is seen as a resource, but its limits are properly framed and known by everyone.

And the citizen is, again, no more a “whiner” but someone who can also contribute with solutions, or contributing to “the” solution.

Social networking sites put all these things together, making possible sharing, deliberation, participation, etc.

Far from corporativism, Copons opted for universal and socialized tools, in the cloud, for free: WordPress, Facebook, Flickr, etc. and everything licensed with Creative Commons. Notwithstanding, opinions were only accepted if backed with a real digital profile, even if they were popular or widely accepted.

Surprisingly, online administrative processes have been the less popular, being participative tools the most used. The major: There’s no opposition: it is the citizens who are watching us. Working on the net and in such a framework, the administration has to be transparent and the citizens ask for highest degrees of accountability, responsibility, etc.

What happens with the digital divide? Wifi areas and digital literacy workshops were created to help the laggards catch up with the rest. Training is made on a peer-to-peer basis, where initiated volunteers help their neighbours. Now, more people have digital profiles, there’s more broadband penetration, offline debate has been enriched and enhanced by online debate, people self-organize. A good pro: everybody knows who their representatives are and viceversa.

The Copons 2.0 project has been able to deal with quite complex problems, problems that came from a long tail of approaches, that gathered all the relevant agents (known and unknown) affected by the problem, etc. And sometimes, the identified solutions belonged not to the Government sphere, but to a shared set of responsibilities/responsibles. But, as monitoring is constant, solutions are temporal and they quickly enter a process of constant improvement… as in a permanent beta.


Franck Dumortier: Where are the limits of conventional and unconventional? How is your digital identity affected by you participation conventionally or unconventionally? (e.g. a demonstration that ends up with you on jail because of some uncontrolled riots)

Ismael Peña-López: the impact of SNS on critical and institutionalized citizens, is it the same one? Is it more “2.0” in the case of critical/grassroots and more “1.0” in the case of institutionalized/top-down? José Antonio Donaire: we’ll most probably be seeing Politics 2.0 made up of the 4 stages mentioned below. On the other hand, it not about web 2.0 tools, or web 2.0 tools used the 1.0 or the 2.0 way, but whether there is a deliberative process, however it takes place. Marta Cantijoch: Agreed, it’s not about technology but processes and philosophy, a participatory one, despite whether it is made with web 1.0 or 2.0 applications.

Ismael Peña-López: does Politics 2.0 require a lot more effort/work or can it be mainstreamed in every day’s politics? Ricard Espelt: more than a matter of workload, is a matter of attitude, whether one wants to engage with the citizenry or wants to be pro-active in politics, or just sit on the City Council.

Q: How does participatory politics fit with a party system, closed, not really representative, power centred, top-down managed, etc.? Why should I speak with a politician, interact with them, if they are wired to/by the party? José Antonio Donaire: I’m absolutely for open lists in elections. But, but this radically change the scenario? It might make the individual politician more responsible, but the change of paradigm goes way beyond that. A representative system is efficient, but it does not necessarily require that it is the party/government who decides both the agenda and the results of the agenda setting. There is an urgent need to recover the debate, the collective finding of the truth, the enlightenment.

Albert Batlle: What happens with the profile of satisfied citizen but not active/engaged? Marta Cantijoch: this profile perfectly fits within the Institutionalized group.

Albert Batlle: How do we scale up the Copons 2.0 model? For instance, from the local to the national or the international level. How do we reach consensus there? Ricard Espelt: We have a low sense of the common good and of the community. The problem of scalability is most probably not a matter of size, but of consensus. Big participatory projects do not work not because they are big, but because they are top-down. José Antonio Donaire: Maybe what works is common interest. If Copons 2.0 works it might be because the small town is thematically coherent. We thus can build bigger communities that, notwithstanding, have a common thematic core. And the politician should have channels so that they can practice an active hearing, a way to gather knowledge in which to base their decisions.

Q: (to José Antonio Donaire) Why should a politician want to end up politics? What does it mean ending up conventional politics? How would you then become a Member of Parliament? A: I am aware that representative politics works, but it is a fragile one, and there’s evidence of disaffection and of loss of sense of community. When talking about politics outside politics, this means not without politics, but outside of (or without) conventional politics. The idea is not throwing politicians away, but working with the citizens to set up the agenda, to decide what’s to be decided, etc.

Mònica Vilasau: How do we connect engagement and a call for participation with results? How not to deceive people? Is it easier in smaller places? Are outcomes easier to achieve at smaller scales? José Antonio Donaire: It’s better a citizen association building up a website and imagining what they’d like, than the City Council asking for ideas. A good example could be Las 1001 Ideas.

Ana Sofía Cardenal: For a deliberative democracy, we need a genuine motivation. But there are demagogues that want to manipulate the public arena. What to do with them? José Antonio Donaire: On the Net, reputation is very transparent. In a network of people it is more difficult to be cynical.

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5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (VI). Policies for a safer Internet

Notes from the 5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference: The Pros and Cons of Social Networking Sites, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 6th and 7th, 2009. More notes on this event: idp2009.

Policies for a safer Internet
Chaired by Agustí Cerrillo

Óscar Martínez de la Torrre, Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade.

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2433

The Plan Avanza [the Spanish plan to foster the Information Society] had an important part in raising awareness on the risks of the Internet, but also on providing confidence to newcomers.

The Spanish Law for the Access to Electronic Public Services also included strong measures to provide these services with high levels of confidence, e.g. so that people felt equally secure e-invoicing as invoicing.

The Spanish government has issued several other initiatives to promote confidence and security on the Internet as accompanying measures to major stratetegies like the promotion of Internet in the classroom, G2B and B2B projects, etc.

One of the drawbacks that we usually find in security measures is that humans are the weakest link: technology can be prepared to face difficult challenges or strong security attacks, but humans — because of ignorance, lack of digital literacy or just because they forget to — quite often perform actions in most insecure ways.

Robustness of infrastructures, collaboration platforms or emergent IT models are strategic issues to develop safer Internet strategies at the telecoms level.

The ITU has developed a set of procedures on Internet security available at http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/cyb/cybersecurity/.

Catalonia National Information Security Plan
Nacho Alamillo, Director General Astrea La Infopista Jurídica S.L.

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2433

Surprisingly, there are few attacks in comparison to how poorly prepared are the Administrations, firms and citizens in matters of Internet security. And one of the problems of cybercrime is not only cybercrime itself, but that it is normally tied to other illegal actions such as laundry money, (forced) prostitution, etc.

Reasons why people and institutions are poorly protected: lack of awareness, bad code/software, speed of technological changes (e.g. anti-virus being obsolete in 10′), lack of resources (e.g. small towns with -500 inhabitants but holding their data).

Main drivers of safer Internet policies: Privacity, e-Administration and secure infrastructures.

Strategic goals of the Catalonia National Information Security Plan:

  • Establishment of a nation-wide safety strategy: research, awareness, collaboration within Administrations, fostering existing initiatives, etc.
  • Backing the protection of critical infrastructures, especially those obsolete (“old is easier to attack”): electronic communications, electronic systems for industry control (SCADA), priority lines, etc.
  • Fostering of a business network that provides secure IT: industrial policy to promote secure IT, creation of a private sector that provides social benefits, community based on free software.
  • Increasing confidence in the Information Society: fight against cybercrime, help lines to risk-prone collectives


Ramon Codina: IPv6, which is known to be more secure, is going to be implemented in the short run at the Spanish level? Óscar Martínez: There are already “islands” that have implemented this protocol, but interoperability with other protocols is still a barrier. On the other hand, and as usual, the chain is as strong as its weaker link, which means that the implementation of the IPv6 should be made at the international level or, at least, at a European level. And this is still a far horizon.

Ismael Peña-López: After a first wave to put up content and handbooks and guidelines about security on a push-strategies basis, are we seeing a shift towards pull-strategies? Nacho Alamillo: We are trying to embed security procedures in each and every daily procedure in education, retail selling, etc. so that it becomes invisible and “normal” in everyone’s life. Óscar Martínez: We are trying too to create self-learning content instead of top-down training plans, so to give answers to people when they have the questions, and not the other way round. On the other hand, we’d rather focus on toolkits (again, answering specific questions) rather than generic handbooks, more how-to’s or what for’s instead of theoretical approaches.

Marc Tarrés: What’s the state of standards? Are they converging towards consensus? Nacho Alamillo: So far, there’s many of them and this poses a real coordination problem, though many efforts are being put in this subject.

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5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (V). Access to public information and Social Networking Sites

Notes from the 5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference: The Pros and Cons of Social Networking Sites, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 6th and 7th, 2009. More notes on this event: idp2009.

Access to public information and Social Networking Sites
Chaired by Ismael Peña-López

e-Government at W3C
José Manuel Alonso, CTIC Foundation / World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2415


There is an increasing trend demanding open public information, raw public information, instead of one stop shops to access public services or public information that has already been “treated” or “prepared” for the citizen. Why should administrations limit the interactions with their citizens?

Governments should shift from being owners of data to being curators of data.

Benefits of freeing data are many, arguably being the most relevant one the “Many minds principle”: there’ll always be someone that will find out a way to reuse data that you wouldn’t have even figured.

Three steps to reuse: identify relevant data, represent them so that they can be used, and expose them to the wider world.

The District of Columbia public data set, and and example of its reuse: CrimeinDC. These applications have been estimated to have a 4000% ROI. See also MySociety.org and the Sunlight Foundation.

Data.gov, the flagship of the US Government on open data.

If data are put in appropriate formats, they can be syndicated, aggregated, etc. And the costs of doing this, remixing, reshaping, etc. are almost zero to governments: once data are published, it’s private interests (for or not for profit) with do the rest.

Linked Data: its principle is to empower data so that they can be interlinked and enriched. The idea is to link a data set with another one, and that one yet with another one, etc. This should be able to be done automatically, so when applications accessed a data set, it “browsed” several data sets to build a new combined data set… and all of this made transparently for the user.

Challenges are many: alignment with the mission and strategy, there are some costs, inner capabilities of the administration, security, integrity, persistence of data (that data can always be found in the same place), licensing models and their compatibilities, legacy systems, standardization, etc.

Public data reutilization: Yes, we want
Alberto Ortiz de Zárate Tercero, Director of Citizen Service, Basque Government

In 1833 journalist Mariano José de Larra wrote Vuelva usted mañana (Please come back tomorrow) about the Administration’s inefficiency. Almost 200 years later, we’ve been adding technology to processes but the Administration remains the same. Our goal should be to make this statement obsolete by boosting efficiency and citizen satisfaction.

e-Government is somehow the same path of the modernization of the Administration but with an opposite approach, focussing on people and knowledge instead of processes and technology.

Usually, Administrations focus their e-Government strategies on the online availability of their public services, beginning with income-generating services. On the other hand, the stress has also been put more on G2B services rather than on the citizen.

And, do we know how much e-Government services are used?

What we do know is that a lot of money has been spent in government portals but the efficacy and the efficiency is yet to be made evident.

Shift from e-Government to Open Government (o-Government): services centred in the citizen and co-designed with the citizen; transparency and accountability; innovation fostering. And open data is a pre-requisite of o-Government, being a real exercise of transparency settling democracy. Open data reduce information asymmetry, firms get access to wealthy information and a new kind of citizen emerges: the infomediary.

If data is open, there is no need to agree (neither with the government, nor amongst citizens) on what services need to be set up: emergent initiatives will be able to set them up at their own will, as the resources are plainly available. For instance, Apps for Democracy.

Reusing public information for change
Jordi Graells, Deputy Director of Content and Innovation in the Catalan government’s (Presidential Department) Citizen Service Office.

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2415


Innovation should be aimed at creating value, to transform knowledge to create value.

Gary Hamel: (new) leadership is about enabling rather than doing, is about distributing power, about managing the collective intelligence. On a managing approach, professionals should be put first, then the customer and then the stakeholders… which can easily be translated into the field of the Administration.

But the abundance of barriers and constraints lead us to empowerment through open data. And one of the main enablers of open data is open licences, so that these data cannot only be accessed but also (re)used by anyone.

In 2007 the Catalan Government begins using Creative Commons licenses in their publications. In 2009 the Catalan Government agrees that all publications (whenever there are intellectual propertyh rights) will be using CC licenses — being the optimum in the long run putting all public content in the public domain.

Roadmap of the Catalan Government:

  • Law 37/2007 for the reuse of public information, adding disclaimers to public information clarifying how it can be reused
  • Put information into open data bases so that data can be reused, with several options depending of he kind of database (just data, access to collections of third parties’ materials, etc.)
  • CC licensing for content with IP rights

But it’s not only about administrative change, but about citizen participation and engagement: the Catalan Government shares knowledge in social networking sites where people can participate and engage in collaborative work: communities of practice, social aggregators, etc..

The e-Catalunya project now holds +15,000 members in 54 big groups/categories and several dozen specific working groups.


Idoia Llano: How is the Government of Catalonia’s blog going to be managed? Jordi Graells: It is not exactly the Government’s blog, but the “blog of the Internet experience of the Government”. It will be a corporate blog, not a blog (or a collection of blogs) of the members of the Government. So, it will be like any other communication channel.

Ricard Espelt: How is it, if open data and open platforms have such benefits, that Governments do not use them? Why Governments keep on using customized and closed applications instead of already existing “cloud” applications? Jordi Graells: Security is an issue. An other one is political show off (e.g. it’s “better” a good huge portal, rather than small spread applications that don’t even hold the institution’s logo).

Agustí Cerrillo: technologically speaking reuse of public information is possible and, increasingly, the law has also been updated this way. But it is not this way at the organizational level. So, what organizational change should take place? Jordi Graells: Communities of practice are proving to be a good driver for change. Alberto Ortiz de Zárate: it is very important to convince the leaders, and to do it through small successes and benchmarking others’ small successes. José Manuel Alonso: Act on a two-level basis: at the higher direction basis, agreeing on political strategies; and at the implementation and most operative basis, agreeing on the how-tos.

Ismael Peña-López: In a welfare state like ours, why should I participate and “work for the government”, if I already pay my taxes? Why should I if I won’t change the world? Alberto Ortiz de Zárate: It’s about small but really effective changes, especially in those places where resources are really scarce and small projects can have huge impact.

Marta Cantijoch: Aren’t we promoting a new digital divide — accompanied by a democratic divide — where people that can code, understand the new “sharing paradigm”, etc. can participate in this open society and the rest of the citizenry will be set aside? José Manuel Alonso: The idea is not the creation of a new elite of citizens, but to enable a new set of infomediaries that can provide more and better public services for the citizen. Jordi Graells: These new services that José Manuel Alonso refers to can be new cultural services, learning and research materials, weather data, more and better communication channels, etc.

Q: How can we encourage participation? Alberto Ortiz de Zárate: Historically, participation has been limited to sending out ideas and vote them, which is not really encouraging. If the Administration allows for a creation of new public services, new public value, the citizenry should be more eager to participate as their impact would be much higher.

Q: We should be aware of the risks of sharing information, especially private information. How do we avoid these risks? Jordi Graells: There seems to be an increasing trend towards a genuine change that needs to be managed, but that seems unstoppable.

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5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2009)

5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (IV). Daithí Mac Sithigh: Law Track Gather Up

Notes from the 5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference: The Pros and Cons of Social Networking Sites, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 6th and 7th, 2009. More notes on this event: idp2009.

Law Track Gather Up
Daithí Mac Sithigh

Because we are Internet users, or intensive SNS users, we can put interesting and critical questions. Would it make any difference wouldn’t we be such kind of users?

Article 29 Working Party: how to find a data controller, how to define the default settings, what should be the usage of nicknames and pseudonyms, how should we treat peole under 18 (or under 14, as it also is the case of Spain), what happens to non-members of SNS, or what exactly is the domestic exemption?

Users create cognitive shortcuts that create some harms on our society that we do not fully understand. And solutions to these shortcuts are not that simple, because it attempts against the very nature of SNS and what their users are actually looking into them.


  • Bodil Lindqvist about EU privacy laws
  • Lori Drew and Megan Meier’s suicide
  • John Sawers or how important personalities of the MI6 find their photos on Facebook
  • Phorm being dropped from British Telecom
  • Sunday Express publishing “dirty” stories and being violently “punished” by it

We are reaching a breaking point regarding the Terms of Service and conditions of SNS: either we will give up the fight, or we will ignore them or fight them until the end.

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5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (III). Data protection and Social Networking Sites

Notes from the 5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference: The Pros and Cons of Social Networking Sites, organized by the Open University of Catalonia, School of Law and Political Science, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 6th and 7th, 2009. More notes on this event: idp2009.

Data protection and Social Networking Sites
Chaired by Mònica Vilassau

Spain has circa 8,000,000 SNS users that usually set by default the lowest levels of data protection. It’s difficult to find out who’s the owner of data and who’s reliable of data protection. And it’s usual to find use of third parties’ data not only without their consent but without their knowledge.

Esther Mitjans, Director, Catalan Data Protection Agency

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2399

There’s an urgent need to raise awareness about the privacy risks of using social networking sites and being on the Net.

Parents letting their kids freely browse SNS is like letting them go outside and play on the street unsupervised and unaware of some basic issues.

On the other hand, be have also to build confidence in the digital environment, and Law should have a role in trying to bring back (or build) confidence on the system.

There are shared risks where one’s actions have impact on third parties. What happens when data usage goes beyond the household or domestic arena? It’s known that increasingly SNS users use data for commercial purposes or, to say the least, not for strictly personal reasons.

But who’s liable for data protection infringement in SNS? If there’s been a data mining process for commercial uses, liability is easy to track back. But if the origin is a misuse coming from a particular individual, liability becomes not that easy to stablish.

SNS management is an approach to risk management. We should minimize risks for those acting legally, while prosecuting those who act illegally.

Pablo Pérez San-José, Gerente del Observatorio de la Seguridad de la Información Instituto Nacional de Tecnologías de la Comunicación (INTECO)

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2399

The Observatorio de la Seguridad de la Información [Observatory for the Information Security] is aimed towards monitoring and promoting policies for the security of data and information.

Hugh success of SNS at the kids and youngsters level. 43% kids using Tuenti, 80% using YouTube. Attractive because of the online-offline combination.

Three main key points concerning security hazards in SNSs:

  • Creation of profile: terms of service not clear. TOS should be written in plain English. Quite often, users are asked to fill in lots of data that are legally very sensible. Even if these data are not compulsory, they appear on the sign up form and people normally fill them in. User age verification should be more effective (in Spain, you need parental consent to share data if you’re under 14 y.o.). Default privacy settings are very low, allowing maximum visibility.
  • Participation in the SNS: excessive personal information made public on your profile. Non-authorized indexation by search engines. Installation and generic usage of cookies without the user’s knowledge. Reception of hipercontextualized advertising. Giving away intellectual property rights. Malware, phishing, pharming, etc. that use the information available on SNSs to customize to a higher degree attacks to other users. Spam based on false profiles. Sensitive and inappropriate content for minors. Cyberbulling, grooming.
  • Signing off: impossibility to completely and definitely erase your profile. Information that remains on third parties’ profiles.


  • Be proactive following the law
  • Better age verification
  • Appropriate content (depending on environment and target) and well tagged
  • Awareness raising
  • Fostering secure environments, good practices, and a harmonized international law, while enabling the enforcement of law

Facebook and risks to de-contextualization of personal information
Franck Dumortier, Researcher, Centre de recherches informatique et droit (FUNDP-CRID)

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2399

Facebook’s model is based on the presentation of the users’ profiles, the visualization of the network of relation to others, and, most important, use real-world identification signs, including real names and real places.

When is there de-contextualization?

  • Behaviours and information used in another context from that for which they were intended
  • Violation of contextual norms of appropriateness or distribution

While on the real world anyone more distant than the friend of a friend is a stranger, on Facebook anyone you don’t actively hate is a friend. This enables wider dissemination of sensitive and decontextualized content. The driver being the presence of a visible network, tagging, pressure to join the network, etc.

Privacy is a human right, and is normally treated as a data-subject. But he is also a contextual-human, so privacy should also be seen as a right to contextual integrity, and as a right to self-emancipation from one’s own context.

Facebook as a Foucault’s heterotopia: a place that includes all other places, including its relationships.

In this sense, dealing with the “data subject” (identifying someone by reference to one or more factors specific to one aspect of his identity) is a partial approach, and the right to protect data is the right provided to “dividuals” (as divided individuals, parts of individuals).

A prime effect of Facebook, as an heterotopical environment, is to artificially recompose individuals.

De-contextualization threatens data protection rights.


  • Define higher data-privacy compliant default settings
  • Raise awareness
  • Increasing liability of SNS operators is useless

Data protection in Google
Bárbara Navarro, European director of Institutional Relations of Google in Spain and Portugal.

Embedded video at http://ictlogy.net/?p=2399

Businesses are increasingly aware that data protection and privacy are important issues that need being addressed. There is a general claim that demands privacity on demand: I want to upload everything and then be able to manage my own privacy — and the SNS provider respect and protect it.

Some questions on Google and privacy: excessive data retention; Google Street View and Google Earth and their photos; contextual advertising: is it good or bad; cloud computing and jurisdiction; health records; etc.

In most cases, the user can opt-out (temporal or permanent) on specific aspects: ask the deletion of a photo, stop receiving contextualized advertising, etc. Google’s commitment is that the user is the owner of its own information and the things Google does with it.

Three axes of action:

  • Education
  • Collaboration
  • Regulation


Q: Should the government rank and publish what SNS is more data privacy compliant? A: The government should enforce the law but, as it happens with any kind of crime, most information cannot be made public.

James Grimmelmann: If we prohibit sites like Facebook, is there a threat from behaving as more integrated individuals? If it is our will not to be “dividuals”, is there a threat against us if we ban heterotopies like Facebook? Franck Dumortier: Constituting a unique space is wrong because contexts might not fit, because different dimensions of the self might not be overlapping.

Q: How is it that there’s that much content on YouTube from TV channels? Bárbara Navarro: normally it’s individuals who upload videos on YouTube and TV Channels the ones that have to ask for this content to be retired. On the other hand, Google has created a scanning device that can identify protected content and not permit it being uploaded. It is also true, nevertheless, that most channels have their own YouTube channel and they normally allow protected content to be uploaded by individuals as it provides publicity.

Q: Imagine a user that joins a SNS focusing on a specific disease or illness, he then recovers and wants to quit the network and erase all data. How to? Esther Mitjans: The user made an cost-benefit analysis before joining and decided that it was worth joining the network, we should not forget about this. Notwithstanding, they should be following the requisites of the SNS to delete all their traces.

More Information


5th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2009)