The 4th edition of the Data Transparency Lab conference gathered more than 85 companies of 15 nationalities

Francesca Bria of the Barcelona City Council, opened the event that will have the city as permanent headquarters in upcoming editions

The Data Transparency Lab (DTL) held its 4th Annual Conference on December 11 and 12 at Telefónica headquarters in Barcelona. The event brought together more than 85 companies of 15 nationalities, experts in the protection and investigation of personal data online. For two days, world experts from the industry, policy makers and researchers discussed about real cases, tools and legal data management environments that empower users and show how companies exploit their personal information. Francesca Bria, commissioner of Technology and Digital Innovation of Barcelona City Council, opened the event in which she advocated to turn Barcelona into the capital of technology and ethical transparency of data for the common good of citizens. “We want to use data and technology to improve the lives of citizens and create value for them. We need a strong ecosystem with research centers, universities, start-ups and investment by the public sector. We are working to ensure that data is a common asset and that companies can create services focused on data management and privacy by design”. For this reason, Ramón Sangüesa, coordinator of the DTL, announced that Barcelona will be the permanent venue of the event after having held its previous editions at MIT in Boston and Columbia University in New York.

Francesca Bria - Data Transparency Lab Conference - DTL 2017

Tools for data transparency

Franck Baudot, Privacy Engineer at the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés, said that “there is a need to create tools that show the user the information that is being generated.” Andrea Martens, Senior Economist at the European Commission, stressed that one of the biggest challenges we face in creating these tools is that public procurement rules need to be approved to create them. She also added that such research is very complex since each user wants to know different things, which in turn creates different restrictions. Justin Brookman, Director of Consumer Privacy and Technology Policy at the Consumers Union, added that, “as time goes by, there is less and less control over our data that makes control more difficult to overcome and because of this, we need a greater legal exercise.”

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Research Grants Session 2017

Nikolaos Laoutaris, Chief Scientist of the DTL, introduced the winners of the Grants Program of the DTL 2017. Each awarded project gets €50,000 to cover the work of a researcher for a year for the development of applications that allow users to understand how their data is being used and generate tools for its management. Meike Zehlike of the Technische Universität Berlin presented FA*IR: a tool for fair classification in search engines to avoid discrimination and impartiality. Serge Egelman, of ICSI Berkeley, said that his project, “Transparency via Automated Dynamic Analysis at Scale” detects legal violations, bad practices and the misuse of personal information (PII). Alan Mislove of the University of Northeastern showed through his work “Increasing transparency of data aggregation by Facebook and partners” how social networks work to know what information is being stored and distributed to third parties. Marco Gramaglia of the Carlos III University of Madrid showed the audience what can mobile applications learn from users from the data location they store. Krishna P. Gummandi of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems mentioned in “Exposing Demographic Biases of News Publishers and Promoters on Social Media”, that the biggest problem we have about news in social networks is that we do not know who writes or disseminates them. Finally, Sascha Fahl presented his work on where things are insecure and how to identify them.

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Disruptive approaches in transparency: Implementing Transparency

Josep Maria Pujol, Scientific Director of Cliqz, moderated this session where it was debated whether the user knows the importance of privacy and stressed the role of search engines as tools that filter what the user is watching and looking for. Ben Livshits, Chief Scientist of Brave, raised the idea that traditional browsers and digital advertising are failing and presented the Brave browser that is faster, safer, simpler and protects the user while browsing. Jean-Paul Schmetz, founder and CEO of Cliqz, continued the conversation by stating that we do not need to infringe the user’s privacy for advertising since it has been around for a long time and has always seemed to work. For his part, Andrei Sambra, Technology Lead of Qwant, added that no one really knows why they need more data from users since having so much information becomes a complex activity that needs to be categorized.

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Value creation from data transparency for users and companies

Nathan Kinch, Founding Partner of >X; Valérie Peugeot, Digital Studies Researcher at Orange Labs; Manish Bahl, Senior Director of the Center for the Future of Work in Cognizant and James Harvey, Product designer at Ascential concluded the day by discussing how users want rights in the control of their data and by giving them a focused environment, with integrity, simple and sure will achieve a progress in transparency. With this we want to make the user trust browsers and companies because, according to Manish Bahl, “this value will become a competitive differentiator because the confidence of a user has a commercial value, it is the new currency.” Valérie Peugeot stressed that the right to access, correct and delete your data is active.

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Día 2

Keynote Speaker – Isabella de Michelis

The second day of the Conference was opened by Isabella de Michelis, CEO and founder of Earnieapp. De Michelis stated that transparency must be the driver of economic development in the next 20 years and that is why the world’s largest economies are already implementing laws to moderate it. “Privacy is the right to decide and change your mind if you want to be protected and monetized”, adding that users are an essential part of creating value and therefore they need tools that are easy to use and that everyone can use and give consent in it. On the other hand, companies must know how to differentiate which data, created by the user, are of value among the large quantity that exists.

Isabella de Michelis - Data Transparency Lab Conference - DTL 2017

How to Foster the progress of transparency

Nozha Boujemaa, Inria Research Director, Director of DATAIA Institute & TransAlgo Project Leader, started the session indicating that transparency should be made between the data and the algorithms, since the algorithms are encapsulated opinions that are given through decision parameters and learning data. Ilaria Liccardi, Research Scientist at  CSAIL, MIT, made the audience think about the question of whether improving transparency affects the decisions and actions of the user. Lofred Madzou and Judith Herzog of the Conseil National du Numérique demanded transversal principles in our society since we need to trust real users since they are the ones who are sharing apps and their testimonies with them. Jun Huan, Program Director in the Information and Intelligent Systems Division at the National Science Foundation, stressed the importance of transparency in judicial decision-making where the “Learning of Human Constructivism”, the assimilation and accommodation of experiences, influences the system educational.

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Demo grants DTL 2016

As part of the Grants Program, the winners of the 2016 presented the conclusions and demos of their projects. Shitong Zhu, from the University of California Riverside, presented his project on Adblockers. The next to present his advances was Oleksii Starov, from Stony Brook University, who explained how his PrivacyMeter tool is created to move privacy in real time to the web. Next, Narseo Vallina-Rodríguez, from the International Computer Science Institute Berkeley & IMDEA, presented the advances in his application Lumen Privacy Monitor, an app available on Google Play, which analyses the traffic of the applications installed on the mobile phone and reveals tracking services to collect personal information such as location for advertising purposes. Oana Goga showed his AdAnalyst tool, available in Google Chrome, which shows the user why certain ads appear in our browser and what Facebook knows about us. To conclude, Anastasia Shuba from the University of California, Irvine, showed how to monitor networks on a device to ensure user privacy.

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Usable Transparency in the time of AI and Machine Learning

Paolo Ciuccarelli, Associate Professor at the Politecnico de Milano, led the session on, “Usable Transparency in the time of AI and Machine Learning”. In this panel we wanted to emphasize that the simple explanation of the algorithms of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are necessary for users concerned about their personal data. Ciuccarelli stated that, “Transparency means awareness, an understanding of what is happening and the actions that come after this.” Under this idea Manon Molins of Fondation Internet Nouvelle Génération talked about the Mes Infos project, where people become owners of their data and can use them to better understand themselves and make their lives easier. The designer, Matias Ferrero at Fjord, believes that it is fundamental to understand the problem that each user has and to understand the differences between each one since not all users want to be talked about the same. José Ramón Gómez Utrilla, Product Manager of the 4th Platform and Aura at Telefónica, stated that the objective of Artificial Intelligence should be to create a relationship with the client based on trust. He said that users are focused on what data are collected from them and therefore they must know how to read them. New technologies can be used to create a new interface that is more natural to better understand the user and present new algorithms that offer value to your data.

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Panel: Discrimination and data Ethics

The last panel was led by Simone Fischer-Hüber, professor at Karldstad University, who opened the discussion on “Discrimination and data ethics”. Julia Stoyanovich, professor at Drexel University, said that “the data life cycle is a responsible science that begins with the conscious data collection, exchange, integration, consultation, classification and responsible management of data”. Gemma Galdón, founder and researcher at Éticas Consulting, shared that opinion and took it further by saying that,” the problem with technology is that the relationship between problem and solution is often forgotten”.

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