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Building Trust 11 August 2015

We Need Your Votes for SXSW: Click to "Agree" – The Internet's Biggest Lie

Robin Wilton
By Robin WiltonDirector, Internet Trust

We need to have the talk about relationships. And consent.

But don’t panic. This isn’t that talk.

Have you given consent lately? I bet you have, whether you recall doing so or not. A lot of things happen these days on the basis of “implied consent”, both online and in the real world. For instance, there’s a reasonable chance you have been filmed by a security camera, either while walking or in your car, on the assumption that as part of being in a public space, someone has the right to record your presence and actions.

If you’ve been online, you may well have seen a website banner advising you that “by continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies”. Of course, you have an option. You can withhold your consent, in which case they expect you to leave the website (which you’re already on… so presumably your IP address and http header information have already been recorded. I wonder how many sites delete that data, for users who respectfully back away having read the cookie banner).

Both these cases, even though one is physical and the other virtual, result in data accumulating as part of your digital footprint. That footprint affects your privacy, and it affects your online experience. It could also affect your credit score and all kinds of other aspects of your personal life. And yet service providers of all kinds treat your implied consent as if it’s no big deal: the cookie banner is a great example of that, because essentially what it says is “accept our cookies, let us use them for whatever we like, or go away”.

Forgive my saying so, but that doesn’t look like a very healthy relationship. What does it say about the attitude of the service provider towards the individual whose data they intend to monetise? Nothing very respectful.

In other words, consent is broken, and it’s broken in many respects. If you’d like to hear and see more about this from a panel of experts, and if you’d like to understand some of the innovations that could fix consent, please vote for the panel we’ve proposed for SXSW 2016: “Click to ‘Agree’ – The Internet’s Biggest Lie.”

Click to “Agree” – The Internet’s Biggest Lie
Click to “Agree” – The Internet’s Biggest Lie

You can vote via the SWSW PanelPicker at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/48349. Unfortunately, to vote you have to consent to creating an account with SXSW. Oh, the irony. But still, WE NEED YOUR VOTE and we hope you find this interesting enough to help!

If our proposal gets the go-ahead, you’ll hear:

  • Joni Brennan, Executive Director, Kantara Initiative, on innovation and the connected life;
  • Ian Glazer, Salesforce.com, on Identity Relationship Management;
  • Mark Lizar, SmartSpecies, on Minimum Viable Consent Receipts;
  • Robin Wilton, Internet Society, on User Agency in the hyper-connected world.

Thank you, and we hope to see you at SXSW.

Vote now!

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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