The Top 10 TED Talks About Privacy - And Why You Must Watch Them
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In today's newsletter, I am presenting my ten favorite TED talks about privacy, which I hope will help you better understand privacy and broaden your perspective on the topic.
For those who do not know, TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment, and Design," and it is an American-Canadian non-profit media organization. Their slogan is "ideas worth spreading."
If you are interested in more long-form privacy-related content, you can also check my newsletter post with the top 21 books in privacy & data protection that you must read ASAP.
The list below is not in order of preference, and all videos are available free online.
1- What your smart devices know (and share) about you by Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu. Duration: 8 min.
Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu talk about the experience of adding 18 connected devices to Kashmir's apartment and adding a special router to track how often these devices contacted their services (and what they were reporting back). It's a visually informative presentation showing how invasive internet-connected devices can be. It will be especially enlightening for people who are not convinced that having connected devices - especially at home - can pose any sort of harm. Kashmir also breaks the myth that more connectedness always means more convenience, as she describes the experience as "infuriating."
2- We're building a dystopia just to make people click on ads by Zeynep Tufekci. Duration: 22 min.
Zeynep Tufekci discusses the dangers of online manipulation through sophisticated AI systems, which can access sensitive online data and match them with offline data through networks of data brokers. She argues that this is the type of dystopia that we should most fear, as it is artificial intelligence-powered, the people behind their development cannot understand how the AI categorization works, and these systems need huge amounts of data, therefore fostering surveillance systems.
3- The price of shame - by Monica Lewinsky. Duration: 22 min.
Monica Lewinsky tells the story of how in 1998, she went from a private person to a publicly humiliated figure worldwide with the help of the internet. She remarkably says, “I was Patient Zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously.” Cyberbullying remains a constant practice on the internet, especially through social media. Daily, thousands of children and teenagers are exposed, judged, shamed, bullied, and harassed online, which can lead to psychological and physical harm, as well as fatal outcomes. At 22, Monica experienced dreadful consequences of privacy harm, and today she wants to help change the culture of online humiliation.
4- Here's how we take back the Internet - by Edward Snowden. Duration: 34 min.
Speaking from somewhere in Russia and transmitted through a remotely controlled robot screen, Edward Snowden highlights that among the most important questions that should be discussed after his revelations are the type of government we want, the type of internet we want, and the type of relationship between people and societies. He says that despite the increase in surveillance, there is still hope, as the power of individuals has also been increased by technology. Snowden's revelations occurred in 2013, and as of today, he is still a prominent online figure commenting on privacy-related topics.
5- What you need to know about stalkerware - Eva Galperin. Duration: 12 min.
Eva Galperin discusses the dangers of stalkerware - software designed to unknowingly gain access to an individual's connected device - and her efforts in engaging antivirus companies in fighting these programs. Eva opens our eyes to this emerging problem and how our phones and devices can also be used as weapons against us. She co-founded the Coalition Against Stalkerware, intending to educate people and also convince antivirus companies to change the norm in how they act regarding this type of software. (Last week, in this newsletter, we discussed the case of creepy technologies that can be used to stalk and exploit people).
6- What’s wrong with your pa$$w0rd? by Lorrie Faith Cranor. Duration: 17 min.
Lorrie Faith Cranor researches usable privacy and security, and in this informative and entertaining TED talk, she presents interesting perspectives about people's behavior regarding passwords. Creating passwords that are easy to remember - so that you do not have to write them down - and, simultaneously, difficult enough so that malicious parties cannot crack them is a challenge to anyone. She presents empirical findings that will stick to your mind, help you choose your next password more wisely, and increase your privacy awareness.
7- The nightmare videos of children's YouTube - and what's wrong with the internet today by James Bridle. Duration: 16 min.
James Bridle discusses the science behind successful children's YouTube videos and how their foster a strange algorithmic-driven culture in which the video's main focus is to be algorithmically optimized, even if the end result is not beneficial to the real child behind the screen. He also criticizes the lack of accountability in algorithmic systems and proposes that they should be more legible to the individuals using them.
8- How deepfakes undermine truth and threaten democracy by Danielle Citron. Duration: 13 min.
Danielle Citron brings up the topic of deepfakes - which she defines as "machine learning technology that manipulates or fabricates audio and video recordings to show people doing and saying things that they never did or said." As we saw in last week's newsletter, this technology is frequently used in the context of non-consensual pornography. She explains that there is a legal vacuum that needs to be filled and that education is an essential part of the solution.
9- Why privacy matters by Glenn Greenwald. Duration: 20 min.
Glenn Greenwald breaks the "I've Nothing to Hide" myth, showing that even the people who say that they do not care about privacy do not actually believe it, as they take all sorts of acts to protect it. He explains that our behavior changes when we think we are being watched and that we behave according to what we think is the expectation of who is watching us. Mass surveillance suppressed our freedom in all sorts of ways, and we should care about it.
10- Facebook's role in Brexit - and the threat to democracy by Carole Cadwalladr. Duration: 15 min.
Carole Cadwalladr discusses the influence that Facebook had on Brexit. She argues that there is no transparency on the numbers behind political ads and that lies and disinformation can spread without much control on private platforms such as Facebook, causing a threat to democracy. She argues that, in the UK, a hundred years of electoral laws were disrupted by technology, and addressing "the gods of Silicon Valley" directly, she affirms that they have broken liberal democracy.
Have you watched any of these talks? Which is your favorite? Would you add any other talks to this list? Privacy needs critical thinkers like you: share this article and start a conversation about the topic.
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See you next week. All the best, Luiza Jarovsky