Wednesday 27 November 17:00 - 20:30

Strand Campus King's College London, Strand

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Did You Give Permission?


Did You Give Permission?: Touching the Technical Objects of Personal Data in the Mobile Ecosystem with Dr. Jennifer Pybus and Dr. Ruben Bin

You would not be surprised to realise that your mobile phone is ground zero of your personal data generation. But just how is it that all the things you do, the places you go, the friends you meet, the things you buy, the games you play, what you listen to and watch get transformed into discrete data points rendering use as raw material for for data capitalism and digital surveillance? This event will explore ground zero of datafication by examining the permissions and trackers embedded in the applications that make our mobile ecosystems the primary site for our data life? Two leading researchers in the field will present their innovative research which opens up the generative technical objects of datafication for critical investigation. This will be followed by a wine reception.


Dr. Jennifer Pybus

Department of Digital Humanities

King’s College London

Dr. Reuben Binns

Department of Computer Science

University of Oxford

Chair and Respondent

Dr. Mark CotΓ©

Department of Digital Humanities

King’s College London

Did you give permission?: Inside the mobile ecosystem (Pybus)

Collectively, our personal data has become an unprecedented source of value driving a logic of accumulation which subsumes the lifeworld as never before, evermore efficiently transforming life into finely granulated data points generating different kinds of value for a range of different actors. β€˜Adtech’ or β€˜martech’ are umbrella terms for different technologies and third parties which intensify personalised analytics and other such tools to micro-target consumers, as well as personalising information in a manner increasingly consequential for political life. I will draw on a recent AHRC-funded project that built a platform to examine processes of datafication on mobile devices. Manifest Destiny, enables non-experts to explore the permissions and trackers embedded in our apps, and to make more transparent these technical objects which tap into our data lives.

'Exploring data flows in the mobile app ecosystem' (Binns)

'Apps have, since their inception, packaged up code which allows for user data to be collected by third parties. These include a variety of purposes such as real-time targeted advertising, analytics, bot detection, and even cryptocurrency mining. Unlike the once-open world wide web, mobile app stores were born as closed gardens. The app store providers themselves occupy a position of platform power, controlling the basic terms of engagement between users, app developers and third parties, carefully steering the development of these ecosystems to their own economic ends while attempting to navigate the boundaries of antitrust and privacy regulation. This talk will reflect on these themes, informed by a series of investigations into an archive of 1 million Android apps.'


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