Reference: Dataveillance

The first seminar for this week was about the issue of dataveillance - which is the monitoring of one's cyber footprint (i.e user data and activity data). There exists a debate regarding the ethics of dataveillance, as it can provide benefits, but also can be misused, and abused.

During the discussion, points were raised supporting the actioning of dataveillance. Users can receive personalised and targeted advertisements that they will be more likely to be interested in. Furthermore, dataveillance algorithms could be used for law enforcement, to detect criminal activity and patterns.

However on the flipside, collected data could be abused in many ways. Not only can it be used to 'spy' and track on people; the collected data as well as analysis could be sold to other malicious parties, often without your knowledge nor consent. Consequently, there are many concerns regarding dataveillance, likely outnumbering the reasons supporting dataveillance.

For example, in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, user information was unethically used to influence political campaigns and votings - in many occasions. I found it interesting that such a company existed, whose primary/sole purpose was to collect and analyse political and campaign data. I personally see an ethical concern over distributing political advertisements, as it is likely that targeted ads in a certain direction are the only advertisements delivered to a user.

When it comes to politics, I believe that individuals should be educated about all of the political parties, rather than just being fed supporting information about their favoured party.

Reference: Intellectual Property

My group led this seminar, and I was asked to prepare a presentation to introduce the topic - which I found quite fun to do (my inner arts student is celebrating). We based our discussions around the different classifications of intellectual property - namely trademarks, patents, trade secrets and copyrights.

I personally found the discussion of trade secrets the most intriguing, specifically policies regarding the "right to repair" products. I think that as consumers who pay for products, we should be allowed to tinker and fix our products - and that it should not be the authority of the manufacturer to dictate whether we are allowed to or not.

The defense of "protecting users from further damaging the product" is superfluous to me, as an individual will only attempt to tinker with the product if they feel competent; and thus would have acknowledged the voidance of any danger cautions and warranties. Furthermore, as a company will not support a product forever, it is unethical for that company to attempt to complain against unauthorised third-party repair agencies who are fixing abandoned products.

We also facilitated the discussion regarding patents, if the government should tighten their regulations for patents - especially when an invention could save someone in a life/death situation. The example we put forth was a case study of the EpiPen - whose patent allowed them to inflate the price. Whilst I understand the financial implications and benefits with filing a patent, I also think that (consumable) medical devices should be regulated more strictly, as in developing countries; the state of their economies will increase prices to an unaffordable absurd price.