Rhetoric – How do we talk plain language about Identity and Personal Data?

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Session Topic: Rhetoric, Stories, Explanation, Persuasion Language

Tuesday 1D

Convener: Phil Wolff

Notes-taker(s): Scott Mace

Phil Wolff: When we try to explain identity, people’s eyes glaze over. Like weird sports with weird rules.

In England, the MyData meta initiative, a whole bunch of people are committed to helping the public access data like their health records. They’re having problems with how do we talk to the public about this. These can be people who found browser back buttons frustrating.

We have a rich vocabulary of ideas. Startups share this problem. Personal data store startups are trying to describe things. A chunk of data can be called a gem but it sounds like a trademark.

Leon Brown, HP: We’re trying to talk about the activities you would do. I have an easier time talking about wouldn’t it be good if your records were something you had control of. Your medical records. All your supermarket shopping at the list item. Today you have loyalty programs, but it might be interesting to see combined views of family lists. Stories communicate better than the vocabulary. Do you really want to give out your credit card info to five Mint-like visualization companies? Better to manage your own info.

Joe Andrew, Information Sharing Workgroup: Working on an app to see what Web sites do with your information. Fear is a pretty good starting point for people who don’t understand the technology. Do you know that Google keeps all your searches forever, and Facebook shared information with web sites without asking you? You agreed to this. They say “I hate XYZ” and we use that to continue the conversation.

Leon: Or you hear, great, I trust Google. Where’s the bad part about Google. Joe: We did some in the field research. There was a lot of cognitive dissonance. I’ve got things locked down but my friends are foolish. Or people who say they don’t share anything on Facebook but I open their settings up and hear the opposite. People have blinders.

Eno [no last name given]: I told people I was coming to this conference on privacy and identity. People still are not thinking of it in terms of you have to prove who you are.

Leon: Is “on the Internet” critical to what you’re describing?

Eno: People are more concerned with the online stuff. People are concerned about their personal info being used, a scandal earlier this year, people using fake SSNs to file their tax returns. When the people actually filed their tax returns, they hear “you already filed them.” They found out who was doing it. It’s a fear trigger.

Leon: It’s an encumbrance to remember all these passwords. Is it finding a new way to express my persona?

Phil: The site remembers me. It’s the counterexample to being challenged.

Kevin Marks: Sites in the European Union has to explain to users what cookies are.

Scott Mace: There’s been extensive criticism of the cookie explanation, that it deteriorates quickly into legalise and gobbledygook.

Phil: Maybe there should be a category in next Webbies, best cookies explanation?

Jay Unger: I’ve been to Web sites where they try to explain all the difference techniques used to track users. Nobody reads it. We need language about the intent of the Web site or the relying party.

Joe: Who is a huge part of it.

Jay: My mother, all she really needs to understand is what is the intent? What are they trying to do for her or to her? I consult for clients. The first thing I do is put up a slide that says this is the terms of service. What do you think it means?

Kevin: Terms of service TLDR, the Web site that judges terms of service.

Leon: The vocabulary should be visual.

Phil: I wanted vocabulary when you were talking to an investor or a reporter about personal data. Or using words to talk to someone who is more orally oriented than visually oriented. I’m agreeing visual stuff is really important.

Jay: Even weak trust marks like TrustE didn’t work either. To know what that trust mark means, you’ve got to read a six page document.

Joe: it doesn’t give you any data behind it.

Jay: It’s all descriptions of the accreditation process and the tech underneath it as opposed to intent. People want to know what you as a RP or a web site, what is your intent, what are you guaranteeing, not how you do it. Honestly, you’re going to change the tech over time anyway.

Minoti Amin: It’s all going to be tied back to what you get out of it.

Sara Smullett: How do we give people the language and knowledge about the space so they understand the value, and why is the exchange there? Most people don’t see it as their problem. I can’t get past the apathy.

Jay: Pew did a study about 10 months ago, looking at how people react to three types of privacy notices. They also noted HIPAA reaction. Same behavior.

Leon: It’s low-key. Would people be more sensitive when it’s higher value data such as healthcare?

Joe: In context you can pull it right out of them like Foursquare did.

Phil: In Cory Doctorow’s new novel Pirate Cinema, a copyright law gets passed in England, three strikes and you’re off the internet for a year. People lose their jobs. He talks about the consequences of not managing this resulting in pain.

Jay: On 60 Minutes the CEO of Axiom was telling Morley Safer what they know about him. In the next 2 years they will know 100 times more about us. Both Obama and Romney campaigns are mining big data for campaign purposes.

Leon: If an individual has access to copies of my data, what do I do with it?

Kevin: Can you end up editing it for accuracy?

John Fontana: Companies like Axiom and Google think in the aggregate.

Jay: It goes back to intent. Once data is released, it is difficult to control. If I allow Facebook or Google or Axiom access to my record, once it is released, even if I know the intent of the first party, what happens down the line?

Sara: What about sharing the information with the whole world? We’re framing this conversation in terms of the user’s relationship with the website or website with user, but it’s a full mesh.

Phil: We’ll all have these little angels whispering in our ears, which is different than how we normally interact with people. We don’t have language to talk about what I know from personal experience vs. this new way. “If you behave badly, this will go onto your permanent record.”

Jay: It’s not much of a joke anymore.

Kevin: What has been rhetorically effective in this realm? Citibank ran TV ads to scare people into buying identity insurance. They ran an national ad campaign, saying you need to pay us for insurance. But they’re liable, not me. But rhetorically that was enormously effective. The notion of identity theft is now popularized.

Leon: The idea of ownership and freedom, I control it.

Kevin: The app that showed everywhere you’d been on your phone. Google was doing it. All the carriers are doing this. But because Pete wrote the app, this took off rhetorically in a way that your phone knows where you are. But your carrier knows where you are.

Minoti: Carriers knowing where you are to adapt to—

Sara: identifying people after the tsunami in Japan.

Phil: Six manufacturers of pacemakers, none of them allow you to see your data. Their fear is a liability argument.

Jay: EHR a train wreck in progress. The path we’ve taken is antithetical to the user owning his own data. It’s a situation now where hospitals dependent on EHRs, Minneapolis couldn’t get data from my doctor.

Scott: Under Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, a reduction of Medicare payments is coming if data isn’t being shared.

Kevin: Electronic Health Records in some cases are being replaced by Quantified Self. People are going around the organization to share with each other. Patients Like Me type Websites, even 23 and Me. People deliberately going around mandated privacy stuff.

Leon: I had a friend who died, a treatment optimized for my personal health.

Phil: There’s the data I create, the data you create about it.

Joe: That’s from Ian Henderson.

Leon: Volunteered, inferred.

Joe: The chair of the FTC says it needs to be as simple as the cereal box label. You can also look at it when you want it. You don’t read the nutrition label every time you buy it.

John: A lot of people don’t understand the nutrition label.

Wolff: Closing question. This time next year we might have more work done.

Leon: I would make it task based. Pick your topic and try to make it really specific.

Joe: Information sharing label. Go to www.standardlabel.org, sign up for mailing list there’s a link to see the label.

John: I had to try to explain it in words. The metaphor sounds simple. Explaining it was more difficult. The experience of the user drops dramatically. Google: “Standard sharing label john Fontana.”

Eno: I used to work at a senior center. There’s advocacy groups, the AARP does stuff like that. They could be a stakeholder. Here’s how it could be better. There’s particular groups to approach.

Sara: Not all consumers are the same.

Kevin: There is rhetoric going on there. They tell kids not to put their info online. School records, something else. Dichotomy.

John: The problem continues to magnify itself every time another company comes along with fancy marketing language.