Lecture on October 30th, 2019
Corporate Surveillance of Everyday Life. How Companies Use Personal Data against People
Wolfie Christl, Cracked Labs, Vienna
About the lecture
In recent years, a wide range of companies have started to monitor, track and follow people in virtually every aspect of their lives. Their extensive access to data about the characteristics and behaviors of billions allows them to constantly sort, rate, and rank people as they see fit. Through data-driven personalization, companies and other institutions can utilize information asymmetries in order to exploit personal weaknesses with calculated efficiency. As companies increasingly shape the networked environments and experiences that underlie and determine everyday life, manipulative, deceptive or even coercive strategies can be automated and customized down to the individual level.
In his reports, Wolfie Christl examined and documented how companies use personal data, from real-time monitoring in digital marketing and fraud prevention to invasive data practices in financial services, insurance and healthcare. He will outline the structure and scope of today’s personal data economy, with a focus on mass personalization and automated decision-making at scale. Who are the main players and how do they actually use data? Automated disadvantage and personalized manipulation - how do commercial uses of personal data affect individuals, groups of people, and society at large? And what has to be done?
About the speaker
Wolfie Christl is a technologist, researcher, writer, educator, digital rights activist, and director of Cracked Labs, a small nonprofit think tank based in Vienna. Communication engineer by profession, he studied (but did not complete degrees in) sociology, media studies, and computer science. He published a book and several reports on today’s personal data economy, which have been widely discussed in both the EU and the US. His work focuses on the societal implications of information technology with a strong focus on digital tracking, commercial surveillance, consumer privacy, platform power, and algorithmic decision-making. In 2013, he co-created Data Dealer, an educational online game about personal data. Christl has been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Guardian, Financial Times, Wired and other media outlets all over the world. He regularly trains workers in employee privacy and occasionally writes for newspapers such as the FAZ.
photo credit: Ivan Averintsev, CC BY-SA
Wednesday, 30. October 2019, 18:15-19:45
Main Campus, lecture hall H
poster lecture Wolfie Christl [pdf]
programme "Taming the Machines" [pdf] in winter 2019/20