IGF 2018 LIGHTNING SESSION #8 Always-on and listening: a talk about digital assistants




Name: Luã Fergus Cruz

Organization: Center for Technology and Society at FGV Law School

Country where Organization is based: Brazil

Stakeholder Group: Civil Society

Regional Group: Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Short Description

The arrival of the Internet of Things (IoT) is considered one of the most significant technological changes of the present times, and promises to impact our lives in several ways. At the same time, this interactivity and interconnectivity presents considerable opportunities for technological development and significant challenges to privacy and the protection of personal data.

The products that today are integrated with the IoT technologies are of various types and have different functions, but a specific device draws attention in the international market and began to emerge on the shelves: speakers that have built-in personal assistant voice software.

These virtual assistants use artificial intelligence techniques to analyze user requests and return information - supposedly - useful. They seek to become so natural that we will hardly realize that they are listening to us all the time. Every time an assistant records our voices, the sound files are sent and stored on company servers. Through the collection and analysis of big data, such assistants will process an immense amount of information about us.

That said, this activity aims to be a space where participants feel free to raise concerns and give insights that can foster solutions, approaches and propositions that focus on the privacy discussion of voice-controlled devices.

Session Time

- Session Type (Workshop, Open Forum, etc.): Lightning Session

- Title: Always-on and listening: a talk about digital assistants

- Date & Time:  Day 1 / Monday, 12 november | Time: 15.00-15.20

- Organizer(s):  Luã Fergus, Diogenes Laertius and Kimmy Wu

- Chair/Moderator: Luã Fergus

- Rapporteur/Notetaker: Paula Côrte Real

- List of speakers and their institutional affiliations (Indicate male/female/ transgender male/ transgender female/gender variant/prefer not to answer):

Luã Fergus Cruz (Male)

- Theme (as listed here):

Cybersecurity, Trust and Privacy

- Subtheme (as listed here):

Internet of Things

- Please state no more than three (3) key messages of the discussion.

Need for measures of privacy control, in hardware and software, by users.

Conscientization of the population so that they do not adopt these technologies so easily.

Better writing of the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies of these platforms, and which must comply, at least, with international human rights treaties

Please elaborate on the discussion held, specifically on areas of agreement and divergence.

The debate focused on the potential threats that digital assistants can bring to users and consumers. This was boosted with the the presentation of patent applications, terms of service and privacy policies of the biggest digital assistants in the market. The discussion turn into a forecast for a scenario in which such assistants are increasingly present in our homes and, finally, were discussed ex ante measures to mitigate the possible harmful effects to privacy caused by these devices.

Please describe any policy recommendations or suggestions regarding the way forward/potential next steps.
Greater transparency about the transmission of voice data to the company's servers;
Privacy by design directly incorporated into the technological structures, business models and infrastructures.
Guarantee some autonomy to users, such as the insertion of clear indications that one product is being offered to the detriment of another for commercial issues and the possibility of choosing not to receive personalized ads or sponsored products.

Define minimum standards and develop voluntary best practices at the national and regional levels to ensure the protection of human rights by transnational corporations.

What ideas surfaced in the discussion with respect to how the IGF ecosystem might make progress on this issue?
No idea specifically about the IGF surfaced. Perhaps because it was a 20 minute activity.
Please estimate the total number of participants.
- 10 (ten) participants
Please estimate the total number of women and gender-variant individuals present.
- 6 (six) womens
To what extent did the session discuss gender issues, and if to any extent, what was the discussion?
Gender discussions focused on why digital assistants are "female" by default.