On the 20th of November, the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) network held the 2018 edition of the Safer Internet Forum. On this occasion, Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, presented the very first #SaferInternet4EU awards ceremony, granting select prizes for three categories of participants: youth, organisations and teachers. COFACE-Families Europe is proud to announce that the winners of the organisations category is one of it’s member organisations, the Gezinsbond, in partnership with Childfocus, which managed to reach many disadvantaged families in the flemish speaking part of Belgium.
The opening session of the event focused on behavioural sciences and how more and more research is being carried out by the tech giants to keep audiences “hooked”, engaged, make sure they return to their platforms to maximize revenue from advertising. COFACE-Families Europe has long denounced the flaws of the business model relying on big data analytics and targeted advertising, which not only poses a threat to privacy, creates so called “filter bubbles” which surrounds people and especially children with ideas and content which reflects their preconceptions and limited areas of interest, and also starts a “race to the bottom” where the prevalence and intrusiveness of advertising is gradually increased to maximize profits at the detriment of user experience, exacerbating the consumerist and materialist attitudes in children.
Some solutions worth while exploring are alternative business models such as: decentralized platforms and websites such as Steemit or Mastodon, crowdfunding/crowd donation solutions like tipeee or websites based on donations like Wikipedia, websites funded by in-browser cryptocurrency mining and alternative business models emerging thanks to blockchain technology like the Brave browser and the BAT (Basic Attention Token) which monetizes people’s attention and remunerates all parties in a transparent way.
The “deep dive” sessions discussed two major challenges in the online world:
- Data privacy: a security researcher presented the way hackers and other ill intentioned people gather personal data and can harm a target individual, for instance, by hacking into his personal accounts and stealing valuable information, or by threatening to disclose personal information against a ransom, or holding a person’s data hostage. Users are encouraged to constantly verify whether the passwords of the services they use have not been compromised on the website https://haveibeenpwned.com/ and change their passwords regularly.
- Deep fakes: as technology advances, it is now possible to create realistic “fake” videos where a person’s face and voice is hijacked and manipulated by an actor which can make that person say or do whatever he/she wants. Some examples of what is possible include 1. Mapping a target actors’ movements to someone else’s body: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=PCBTZh41Ris Manipulating someone’s face and voice to make them say and do things they have never done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLoI9hAX9dw . While creating “fake” images and digital content is nothing new, this pushes the boundaries further, extending it to voice imitation and videos. It creates an environment where no audio-visual material can be trusted and where digital “evidence” can no longer be considered reliable.
While the sessions provided much useful insight into key problems encountered online, they didn’t provide much in terms of solutions. Some possible solutions to explore include:
The emergence of decentralized cloud hosting for securing data and preventing mass data leaks. The problem of the current centralized platforms and online services means that it is easy, once a hacker breaches within the service, to steal all of the sensitive data including all of the service users’ credentials (password and private data). With decentralized cloud hosting, there could be no way to steal such data in bulk. Only individual accounts could be “hacked”.
With respect to deep fakes, digital recording devices and all reliable news channels recording any digital material could generate a unique “hash” which is associated to the digital recordings they create, and which could be attached to the file in order to “certify” that it is the original, unedited content.
COFACE-Families Europe will continue to monitor key developments in the area of digitalization and how it may impact families in the future, in cooperation with the BIK network and other key stakeholders.
For more information, visit the official website of the event here: https://www.betterinternetforkids.eu/web/portal/policy/safer-internet-forum
Or contact Martin Schmalzried: firstname.lastname@example.org