Nicolo Zingales Lecture

1 May 2019
Fox Lecture Hall, Arts Building, UWA
General Public, Faculty/Staff, Students, Alumni

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Suveillance Economy

Personal Data Stores: boon or curse?

A public lecture by Dr Nicolo Zingales, Deputy Director, Centre for Information Governance Research, University of Sussex and Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.

When we search the Internet, whether for hotels, flights, or shoes, we don’t all get the same price. Features of our computers or phones, our location, and our browsing history are all giveaways that help target the offers we see. These are features of an ecosystem that is built around pervasive tracking and monetisation of data on our movements and behaviours. One of the stark realities of this ecosystem is that, while data about us produces tangible value for sellers and traders, we are typically cut out of the value chain, and unable to control the use of our personal information. One of the developments that aims to reverse this trend is the concept of “Personal Data Stores” – tools to help with the collection, management, and permissioned sharing of personal information. These Personal Data Stores aim to help individuals and communities to be the beneficiaries of insights from their data. Some think it will redress the current power asymmetry with major digital platforms like Google and Facebook. But at the same time, Personal Data Stores lay the foundations for a new type of economy based on very specific personalised marketing, which makes consumers more transparent and prone to behavioural nudging. So, will Personal Data Stores set us free, or lock us further into digital dependency?

This lecture will tackle these questions, offering a blueprint for the sort of legal and governance structures that could promote trust and accountability in the development of these services.

Dr Nicolo Zingales lectures in competition and information law at the Law School of the University of Sussex, where he is Deputy Director of the Centre for Information Governance Research. His research focuses on the role and responsibilities of digital intermediaries cutting across different legal regimes, including intellectual property, competition law, data protection and consumer law. He previously worked at the European Commission and the European Court of Justice, and held appointments at law schools and research institutes in Germany, Switzerland the United States, South Africa and the Netherlands. He is a founding member of the MyData organization and the host of its UK hub; founder and co-chair of the UN IGF Coalition on Platform Responsibility; and a non-governmental advisor to the International Competition Network. He is actively engaged in various debates around law and policy reform, including most recently as invited stakeholder to European Commission’s and UK government’s consultations, and expert witness before the UK House of Lords for the recent inquiry on “The Internet: to regulate or not to regulate?”.