What’s the problem with personalisation, anyway?

Recently, Google announced that it is buying Fitbit, the fitness tracker company which, not long ago, was the leader of the fitness wearable devices market. This acquisition gives Google a foothold in the large, growing and lucrative smartwatches / fitness band arena, which was lacking from their product portfolio. Most importantly, for Google, it gives … Continue reading What’s the problem with personalisation, anyway?

Biases in algorithms – the case of Hello Barbie

Sometime ago, I saw a presentation by Val Steeves, Professor of Criminology at the University of Ottawa (Canada), about her research on smart toys. The talk focused on Hello Barbie, a Barbie-branded doll which is advertised as “the first fashion doll that can have a two-way conversation with girls”, and featuring “speech recognition and progressive … Continue reading Biases in algorithms – the case of Hello Barbie

A peak into tech giants’ terms and conditions

I don’t think that I have ever read a full set of terms and conditions from one of the tech giants. And I think that I am in the majority, here.   Most terms of service are extremely long, as illustrated by Dima Yarovinsky’s installation at the Visualizing Knowledge 2018 exhibition. The artist printed the … Continue reading A peak into tech giants’ terms and conditions

Consumer perceptions of surveillance activity of Alexa vs. Google Home vs. Siri

Voice assistants (aka smart speakers) are becoming increasingly popular. For instance, by the end of 2017, one in six US adults owned a smart speaker (e.g., Alexa or Google Home), a number that is expected to grow by 50% during 2018. This represents an adoption rate much faster than that for smartphones or the Internet. … Continue reading Consumer perceptions of surveillance activity of Alexa vs. Google Home vs. Siri

From Facebook likes and Internet of Things, to insurance premiums

Last week, the news broke that Admiral car insurance planned to launch a new product aimed at new drivers, firstcarquote, whereby policy holders could get rebates on their annual premium, based on their social media activity.   The Guardian reported that: Admiral Insurance will analyse the Facebook accounts of first-time car owners to look for … Continue reading From Facebook likes and Internet of Things, to insurance premiums

Protecting the rights of children as consumers of digital technology

There is a new initiative in the UK, the iRights, proposing guiding principles for the design and operation of digital spaces used by children, so that these young users of digital technology can fully benefit from the opportunities presented by digital technologies. I think that these principles are really helpful in moving the debate away … Continue reading Protecting the rights of children as consumers of digital technology

Our surveillance book has been featured on TV programme ‘Going Underground’

The Russia Today TV programme, Going Underground, has covered the book “The Private Security State - Surveillance, Consumer Data and the War on Terror”, in some depth. As you may remember, this book is the product of a large research project sponsored by The Leverhulme Trust, and led by Professor Kirstie Ball at the Open … Continue reading Our surveillance book has been featured on TV programme ‘Going Underground’