Happy GDPR Day

This is now my primary blog and personal website. Having had my posts concerning trackers on blogger rightly criticized as embedding trackers, I have migrated to GitHub. Of course the irony is that GitHub Ts&Cs and Privacy Policy now apply…

Written on May 25, 2018

To Regulate or Not

Response to Call for Evidence for House of Lords Select Committee on Communications inquiry into “The Internet: To Regulate or Not To Regulate?”

Written evidence submitted by Prof. Derek McAuley, Dr. Ansgar Koene, Dr. Lachlan Urquhart of the Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, University of Nottingham. May 11th 2018.

Summary: it is already regulated - could someone please enforce existing regulation.

Read More from May 24, 2018

A few thoughts on Net Neutrality

Sean came visiting again, so time for a @computerphile video; he wanted to know about Net Neutrality.

Not sure I gave him much other than "it's complicated"! The global philosophical debate about it is played out in each country differently depending on local legislation, regulation, the lobbying power of the various factions and the time varying whim of national governments...

Mac on
Net Neutrality
Click to play

#thingsthataremostlynottechnical

Written on December 4, 2017

Why Databox?


Databox results from many years of research into personal data and their ecosystems. This short note lays out the primary motivations and the thinking behind Databox without delving into the technical detail. As background, I recommend watching the “What is Databox” video on YouTube to obtain a high-level view of the Databox approach. Fundamentally, the forces that motivate Databox arise from the EU General Data Protection Regulation, the advent of the Internet of Things, and the need to balance consumer concerns such as privacy and accountability with commercial desire to exploit new opportunities provided by the widespread generation, collection and analysis of data.

Read More from November 28, 2017

On things end-to-end

The latest from the UK Home Secretary on "end-to-end encryption" and the responses make me feel the need to explain some things cryptographic and historical.

Read More from August 2, 2017

Search engines have no sense of humour

A colleague drew to my attention some recent plans to try and take on offensive and "fake" content... from the Search Engine Land article:
“We’re explicitly avoiding the term ‘fake news,’ because we think it is too vague,” said Paul Haahr, one of Google’s senior engineers who is involved with search quality. “Demonstrably inaccurate information, however, we want to target.”
Read More from March 21, 2017

Privacy sometimes means secrets

IPSWITCH survey results infographicA recent survey (Sep 2015) for IPSWITCH was broadly picked up by the tech press and highlighted the concerns of IT professionals with the looming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); 69% say their business will need to invest in new technologies or services to help prepare the business for the impact of GDPR including:
  • 62%: encryption
  • 61%: analytic and reporting
  • 53%: perimeter security
  • 42%: file sharing
This was shortly followed by the European Court of Justice ruling on the Schrems case concerning the Safe Harbour arrangements (Oct 2015).This has variously provoked doom laden stories and more measured pieces pointing out that many large companies have seen it coming and taken steps to put in place other legal means to ensure continued operations.

Read More from October 8, 2015

I, Robot; and privacy by design

Text of submission to Gikii 2015...

Sonny, the modified NS-5 robot in the 2004 I, Robot film exhibits several key elements designed to serve his mission of avoiding the robotic revolution:

  1. Keep secrets;
  2. Heterogeneity of processing;
  3. Separation from central authority;
  4. Denser alloy…

How can we reflect upon this for technology in general, and privacy by design in particular.

Read More from September 24, 2015

Anonymous - we need some limits

I've been much annoyed recently by the wooliness of thinking around anonymity by many and thought it time to remind folks to look the word up in a dictionary before declaring that what they have done is "anonymized the data".

Read More from July 30, 2014

Social media and real time analytics

Having responded to the UK parliamentary select committee on Science and Technology inquiry into social media data and real time analytics, I was pleasantly surprised to be invited to give oral evidence in a session a few days back.

The video on Parliament TV is two hours, but the transcript is perhaps more readily digestible!

Witnesses
  • Professor Derek McAuley, Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, Professor David De Roure, Director, Economic and Social Research Council, and Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Web Science Trust
  • Professor Liesbet van Zoonen, Loughborough University, Professor David Robertson, UK Computing Research Committee, Dr Mathieu d'Aquin, The Open University, and Emma Carr, Big Brother Watch
Written on June 30, 2014

Ethics and social media...

The UK parliamentary select committee on Science and Technology recently agreed to hold an inquiry into social media data and real time analytics. As we at Horizon been beavering away at privacy preserving means to handle personal data (Dataware), poked at legal aspects of digital assets at death (Death 2.0) and have had our fair share of ethics committee input (wearable camera use), it seemed useful to respond to their call for wirtten evidence to the inquiry.

So having spent the time, I thought I might post the Horizon response here. Many thanks to Gilad Rosner for background research and Lilian Edwards for editorial comments. It's not light reading.

Read More from April 2, 2014

A tale of two blogs

Know your audience:
Wife's blog - children's author
My blog, ramblings of an academic

That is all.

Written on February 10, 2014

Open data - libre not gratis

It started with a tweet - mischievous Maurizio sending the following:

  1. The question was *really* hoping to get at :-) - what's the cost of open data?

I don't think I even mentioned open data in the CloudCom 2013 keynote, but as I pointed out to the questioner - that wouldn't stop me having an opinion.

So easy one - "open data" should be "free as in speech".

Read More from December 6, 2013

Images, metadata, orphans and copyright

Originally posted as a CREATe blog. CREATe is the RCUK funded Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy.



Coincidentally, five days after the publication of the Copyright Licensing Steering Group's report on the last 12 months of work on streamlining copyright, I was due to give a talk at a joint event of CREATe and the EPSRC funded Network of Excellence in Identity. The event "Identity Lost – electronic identity, digital orphan works and copyright law reform", the talk "Digital tool chains; get your act together" - what joy to find the CLSG report, which lays down 10 key principles, formed the perfect frame to what I had planned to talk about! What should we do to avoid the on going creation of digital works that are orphans at birth?

Herewith the blogged version of the talk...

Read More from November 15, 2013

The data opportunity

The recently published government report entitled "Seizing the data opportunity" lays out a wide ranging programme of activities to take on the challenge of both turning UK companies into data driven organizations and leaders in new data driven services.

The Digital Economy Catapult gets multiple billings, and as CIO there, I'm excited to be involved in pursuing various opportunities, for example: in e-Infrastructure developing novel tools and platforms to simplify access to what are often complex underpinning software architectures; and through our Trusted Data Accelerator, aiming to bring creative data processors together with rich datasets. My personal research for the last four years (drdrmc posts passim.) has been around personal data, so it is exciting to now be involved with CDEC in looking at what next for midata, and the midata innovation lab. More on these initiatives as they roll out...

Read More from November 1, 2013

Thoughts from a recent workshop

What do they know about you? Source: MyDex CIC
Just posted an article over on The Conversation on the sentiments at our recent Horizon workshop around personal data.

"Many researchers are concerned that inadequate checks and balances are in place to make sure the data gathered through midata is not used in ways that we might not like or that threatens our privacy."

Nice find by the editor of the image!
Written on September 26, 2013

Data where?

@gikii and #gikii2013 on twitter
Attending GikII gave me a great opportunity to talk to folks at the junction of law and technology who concern themselves greatly with personal privacy and see a sea of tech washing over the population that causes great concern. I’d been laying out my strategy for dealing with the current tech and our research plans in this space, and was encouraged to get it written down in an easy to read version – i.e. not our research publications! So here goes...

Read More from September 17, 2013

Cyber-security is a two edged sword.

One of the great (not eligible for REF 2014) impact stories I have is the small specialist company producing a VOIP service specialised for "blue light" services that provides interoperability between all those different commuications systems they use. This SME came to talk to us in Horizon and we rapidly got into how they deployed their service - the relevant "ah ha!" moment from the CEO was when we explained that Cloud is not about the technology, but what it enables - it is about translating previously what was capital expense into operational expense - Cloud needs to be understood by the CFO. In particular this company was concerned about bidding for large contracts as they did not know how to access they much capital even if they won the contract.

Read More from June 26, 2013

CIO (In the house!)

Over the last year I've been involved in many of the events organised by the Technology Strategy Board to shape the creation of the Connect Digital Economy Catapult (CDEC) and have been keen to see how we can pass the results coming out of the Research Council's Digital Economy programme downstream into the hands of innovators. Hence I've been delighted to be offered the role of Chief Innovation Officer (in residence) at CDEC to help shape it during the start up phase. This entails a couple of day in London each week so calendar challenges, but already having fun. Details as it happens...
Written on May 23, 2013

iPhoto challenges my knowledge of history

So in preparing the previous post I am just vastly amused by iPhoto on my Mac challenging me on this face tagging.

I'd have to say, I would concur with this or there is some monstrous archeological conspiracy.
Mind you what does it mean for real name policies, for example if I tag this on FaceBook?

Written on May 9, 2013

Artmaps a map

I'd forgotten to actually replicate this from my testing blog...

My previous post concerning Artmaps explained the outline of the Artmaps project and as we progress we're getting to grips with some of the data - here's that part of the Tate collection that has been geocoded; the pop-ups should take you to the Tate website for each of the artworks, but given 15,702 artworks, I have not checked all the URLs...

Read More from October 18, 2012

And relax...

/images/infinity.pngRe: a previous post - life just got slightly better with an upgrade to BT Infinity - BW now 80Mbps rather than the 256kbps cap we were on again! iPlayer here we come..



Read More from July 11, 2012

ArtMaps - fun with Art and Maps

ArtMaps is a collaboration with Tate investigating how people relate Art to location both through an online web experience as well as through mobile applications. Initially looking at the "easy" problem of crowdsourcing location, this rapidly led to
  1. a discussion on what we mean by location for a piece of art and
  2. the more general problem of crowdsourcing people's very different interpretations of the art works.


Read More from July 9, 2012

What grinds my gears

Returning from a trip today I find disgruntlement in the McAuley household - "Interwebs is broken" is the user assessment. Initial probes show it's actually sort of connected, but it's clearly got some issues...

Read More from May 30, 2012

What price privacy?

I recently started considering what had happened with the upgrade to IOS 5 and the encouragement to move to iCloud. I had been a long standing me.com user and willingly paid my family membership of 70 quid(-ish) per annum - this because I believed (perhaps erroneously), that unlike gmail, Apple was not trawling through my personal email and extracting value from it in mysterious ways. I transfered to iCloud and then observed that my me.com account (which had some number of months to run before renewal) had moved to a 10Gb paid for service, but come the end of my subscription it would revert to 5Gb and become free.

Read More from February 22, 2012

Fund raising the Digital Economy way

Like the approach of Raspberry Pi foundation - auctioning off their first 10 boards on ebay. Board 10 is leading the race with £2050 bid so far, not bad for a £25 retail ARM box and 4 days to go :-)

Someone surely is thinking these will be collectors items...

Postscript 10/1/2012: BBC now on the case - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16424990

Written on January 3, 2012

Gas and tea tariffs

Simple lessons for the energy industry and us researchers - simply put, if customers don't get it, you've got a problem; and you'll be eating humble pie.

Read More from November 24, 2011

Why Johnny Can’t Opt Out...

Why Johnny Can’t Opt Out: A Usability Evaluation of Tools to Limit Online Behavioral Advertising.

A great tech report from CMU CyLabs on issues in self-regulation and opt-out mechanisms in online advertising. Conclusion - "fundamentally flawed".

Read More from November 9, 2011

The data is out there; the episode of the nibbled chainsaw

So; this is the sorry sight that greeted me as I deployed the tools for some light hedge trimming this morning. For those unversed in garden machinery lore and wizardry, what you see here is the result of a rodent nibbling on the carburettor primer pump of a chainsaw. Since integrity of this small plastic component is vital for it's correct operation - Mr Rat has quite effectively, and probably most efficiently, sabotaged my weekend's "hedge trimming"; however, he's not that smart as we can narrow down the suspects - this guy is clearly into solvent abuse.

Read More from October 15, 2011

Don't let the energy company kill my pet

There's an intersting article on the privacy issues present in much of the current thinking on smart grids over on Miller-McCune's blog.

There is indeed a fundamental problem with the model that energy companies are going to be poking around in our homes switching things on and off - the problem I refer to as "don't let the energy companies kill my pet".

Read More from September 23, 2011

Cloud security fears exaggerated, says federal CIO

An interesting read over at Computer World:
"A lot of people are sort of driving this notion of fear around security" Kundra said. "And the reason I think that's been amplified, frankly, is because it preserves the status quo."
Talking to the folks from The Portal recently and starting to appreciate the levels of automation and small number of folks who are actually needed to manage the automation in these data centres, the issues of "who has the time?" and "wouldn't even know where to look" provided a lively topic of discussion; however, still think I'd like a smattering of "encryption at rest". Belt and braces don't you know.
Written on August 1, 2011

Is the Future of Patient-Managed Health Records Now a Thing of the Past?

RIP Google Health and Powermeter (see here); and MSFT Hohm at the same time. In the immortal words of Half Man Half Biscuit "A million housewives every day pick up a tin of beans and say, 'what an amazing example of synchronisation'".

And so as they ask[ed *] over at BioPoliticalTimes, are we done with patient managed records?

I think the thing here is not to loose track of the fact that patient access to records rather than holding them is a key service we want to see...

[*] WayBackMachine to the rescue, BioPoliticalTimes is now defunct:
https://web.archive.org/web/20130509115158/http://www.biopoliticaltimes.org/article.php?id=5783
Written on July 10, 2011

RIP Google PowerMeter

Begin forwarded message:
From: Google PowerMeter <powermeter-noreply@google.com>
Date: 24 June 2011 22:20:24 GMT+01:00
To: me@email
Subject: Update on Google PowerMeter
Reply-To: powermeter-noreply@google.com
Dear PowerMeter User,
We first launched Google PowerMeter as a Google.org project to raise awareness about the importance of giving people access to their energy information. Since our launch, there's been more attention brought to this issue, and we're excited that PowerMeter has helped demonstrate the importance of access to energy data. However, our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would have liked, so we have decided to retire PowerMeter.
You will continue to have access to the product until September 16, 2011, after which time you will no longer be able to access your PowerMeter account. We know that having access to your energy information has helped you save energy and money. There are many options available for you from our device and utility partners. Please visit this page to learn more: http://www.google.com/support/powermeter/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1342532
We also understand that having your historical energy data is important to you. We've made it easy for you to download your data. To export your PowerMeter data to a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file, log in to your account and go to "Account Settings." More information can be found here:http://www.google.com/support/powermeter/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=164264
We appreciate your understanding and hope that you've enjoyed using Google PowerMeter. If you have questions about this announcement, please visit our FAQ pages at http://www.google.com/powermeter/about/faqs.html
Thank you,
Google PowerMeter team
© 2011 Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043
You've received this mandatory service announcement email to update you about important changes to your Google PowerMeter account.
Written on June 25, 2011

Whole Cloud Thing Currently a big waste of time for everybody


Best wishes to my old friend Simon as he heads off for a new startup Bromium with this parting piece from GigaOM:
Crosby said the threat it [sic] to everything under the umbrella of the public web. “[U]nless we solve some of these problems,” he said, “the whole cloud thing is just a big waste of time for everybody."
Read More from June 22, 2011

Big Data

Analyzing large data sets—so called big data—will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus as long as the right policies and enablers are in place.
So say McKinsey...

http://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/publications/big_data/index.asp

"Right policies and enablers" - yup - since Informed Consent has failed in the web maybe we just need "some good old consumer protection". I would credit that quote but the relevant privacy lawyer is a very private person :-)
Written on May 20, 2011

LIve Mesh

After burying FolderShare for several years in MSFT development, and then giving us a crufty Office add on, MSFT seem to have sorted themselves out with Windows Live Mesh, which has recently come out of beta.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Live_Mesh

Note an important aspect of this service is that the data does not necessarily have to reside in the cloud (c.f. dropbox) but the service offers to merely sync it across your devices - for those concerned about people looking at your content "at rest" in the cloud it's quite sensible. There's a REST API for access to the service - perscon [*} sync service courtesy MSFT?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Live_Messenger_Connect

Right now in terms of apps Windows and Mac supported for syncing. Should imagine Windows for Mobile coming soon. No sync app for iPhone and IPad; web browsing gives "not available on mobile" so you need something like AtomicWebBrowser that can lie for you.

[*] This link previously http://perscon.net/, now points who knows where.
Written on May 16, 2011

Policy for meta data about policy on open data

So writing an article for a conference and I was trying to find how I can cite the UK Power of Information Task Force report.
Change in government and the website is gone. DOI anyone?
Written on October 31, 2010

Required reading

In the article by Jeffrey Rosen, "The Web Means the End of Forgetting", he talks about many fine ways to deal with the issue of the web having a habit of remembering things; from online hygiene to social and technical take downs. I do hope the next round of digital economy start ups realise that the sensitive stewardship of its subscribers or customers privacy is a major selling point!
Written on August 16, 2010

^mydex - doin' it right

Getting back control of the information beast is critical and while it's not going to be business as usual for governments and business the interesting challenge is to understand how personal data done right will actually drive a whole new wave of personal applications - while we're figuring that lot out, great to see social enterprise ^mydex leading the way on this personal data.... read and learn.
Written on June 29, 2010

Concerns about trickcyclists use of google

..or indeed your doctor [*].
Most psychiatrists have engaged in "patient-targeted Googling", say the authors, and find personal information ranging from criminal records, details of substance use, sexual activity, finances and suicide plans.

Surely the issue here really why on earth would they believe what they find?

Sounds like a quick way to get someone committed just got added to the evil uses of the Internet.

[*] Image recovered courtesy of WayBackMachine https://web.archive.org/web/20100611054057/http://www.t-shirthumor.com/Merchant2/graphics/fullsize/msfg_lg2.gif
Written on March 29, 2010

German court orders stored telecoms data deletion

From the BBC:
"Having been spied on for decades, first by the Nazis and then by the Stasi, the notorious communist secret police, Germans take their privacy seriously, our correspondent says."
more here...

Glad to see the gradual and invidious peering into our lives by corporates and government is being fought off somewhere.
Written on March 2, 2010

The poster child for scalable cloud computing

I was giving a talk recently at a BIS and was in need of an example showing the shift from capital to operational costs for businesses in the era of cloud computing. Who better than Animoto to use as an example - especially once I found this fine graphic showing the 3 day growth curve.


And what better way to liven up the powerpoint than to "eat the dogfood". If the embedded JavaScript has been stripped by the Horizon webserver, just go here.



Pictures courtesy of Helen's project 365.
Written on February 4, 2010

ACM HotPlanet 2010

Possible venue:
"It is well-known that successfully researching, designing and building new mobile, ad hoc, mesh and opportunistic networking systems and algorithms requires access to large-scale data on human mobility, encounter, and social network patterns. ..."

http://www.hotplanetconf.net/
Written on January 18, 2010

Bring back Common Carriers....

Fun to see deep packet inspection (DPI) becoming a topic of everyday conversation as it gets applied to survey, and possibly in the future shut down, file sharers - a service of Detica coming to a Virgin ISP near you....

A major challenge for the commercial sector for years has been the growth in SSL traffic crossing firewalls being annoyingly opaque to deep packet inspection. (The only real solution is one that cracks open the packets by decrypting using"SSL Inspection Appliances" from the likes ofNetronome, Blue Coat, et al.)

So on the one hand DPI is a tool for surveillance of unencrypted just as the amount of encrypted traffic is growing; and how long before those file sharers adopt it - oh they have already since 2005. On the other hand maybe if we all adopted encryption for all traffic, perhaps serviceproviders in future might avoid £8000 fines- could it possibly reinstate them as "common carriers" if they require users to encrypt all traffic.

"Dear Blogspot, can I please be accessible as https://machorizon.blogspot.com ..."
Written on December 7, 2009

Progress on open data

Good to see that Tim and Nigel have been making the most of the opportunity offered to open up the govt data - very useful for Horizon we should be watching these data sources eagerly as they come online to see what new and interesting applications they might enable. They have a column in the Times Online "Put in your postcode, out comes the data".

Right now I'd appreciate a map that allowed me to click on the street lamp outside my house and sent off email to whoever is responsible for fixing it :-)
Written on November 19, 2009

Can Information be Personal? & Ad-hoc networks

Some very interesting thoughts on information privacy and the Data Protection Act from a lecture at theCaledonian Research Foundation(RSE)by Baroness Onora O'Neill - "Can Information be Personal".
"The definition [of ‘processing’] in the Act is a compendious definition and it is difficult to envisage any action involving data which does not amount to processing within this definition"
I was amused reading this lecture this week as it co-incided with finding an example not covered by the Act - from the ICO we find a press releasefrom 2007!
"However, the Regulations only apply to messages sent over a public electronic communications network and we have concluded that Bluetooth messages are not in fact sent using such a network."
Nor a lot of research networks of the last number of years! (e.g. Haggle...)

I am told this loophole is to close.
Written on November 12, 2009

Internet of Things CFP

Interesting conference for that mixed physical and virtual world.....http://www.iot2010.org/
The "Internet of Things (IoT)" disrupts with the today's Internet limitations of human-entered data: technologies like RFID, short-range wireless communications, real-time localization, and sensor networks empower computers to perceive the world for themselves. Standardized infrastructures capable of managing, sharing and processing this captured data will be necessary in order to bring the Internet of Things into commercial use. This interlinking of physical world and cyberspace foreshadows an exciting endeavor that is highly relevant to researchers, corporations, and individuals.
Read More from November 4, 2009