2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: In Data We Distrust - Fixing Online Privacy

Written by Hugh Forrest | January 10, 2014

Joseph Galarneau talks about data at SXSW Interactive 2014

The 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival includes more than 800 sessions covering a complete gamut of topics relevant to digital creatives. This installment of the Session Spotlight examines “In Data We Distrust: Fixing Online Privacy”, a core conversation led by Joseph Galarneau (@jdgalarneau) of Mezzobit in New York.

SXSW: Please tell us more about what will be discussed in the “In Data We Distrust: Fixing Online Privacy” session at SXSW Interactive 2014.
Galarneau: There is growing distrust over Internet data. Consumers fear how their information is collected and used, and companies struggle to maintain control over data when transacting with third parties. This FUD is amplified by headlines recounting data transgressions by Internet players — at least those we hear about. This Core Conversation challenges participants to develop ways restore consumer and enterprise confidence by balancing respect for privacy while responsible commercial use of data. Bring your creativity and let's solve a problem in an hour that has defeated repeated attempts by industry, government and standards groups.

SXSW: Have you spoken on this topic before? If so, where and when and what kind of reaction did the session receive?
Galarneau: I did a similar moderated session at the 2013 Mozilla Festival in London in October. We engaged folks to put themselves in the shoes of the different stakeholders in the data ecosystem (e.g., consumers, data collectors, etc.) and come up with a third way to balance privacy with the need to use data commercially. Participants really got into it, and I had some great learnings for the next time that we do this. The SXSW event probably won't be as structured -- we had folks break into teams for problem solving -- but I'll use a related approach.

SXSW: Why should SXSW Interactive registrants want to attend this session?
Galarneau: Help us solve one of the biggest problems on the Internet -- something that has eluded the repeated efforts by industry, government and NGOs. This will be a highly interactive session that will be powered by the creativity of participants. Data collection is in the headlines every day, be it NSA snooping or big Internet companies siphoning up user data. But data has also fueled revenue that has driven innovation on the Internet. Somethings going to change in the next few years, and it's not clear what. All of the various stakeholders seem to have non-overlapping positions, so compromise has been elusive. And technology is moving faster than ever.

SXSW: Tell us a little more about why you are qualified to talk on this particular session?
Galarneau: I've been working with Internet data since the 1990s, mainly in the digital media world. I've traveled the world giving workshops on digital strategy and operations, have taught on the topic for years at NYU and Yale, and have worked in industry as a senior exec at a number of digital brands (including as COO and digital GM for Newsweek and The Daily Beast). Additionally, I'm now the founder of a dot-com/dot-org structure that's dedicated to Big Data/Big Privacy, although I will strenuously comply with the SXSW "no self-promotion" rule. It's about the problem and participants; I'm just a facilitator.

SXSW: Why do you think that speaking at SXSW Interactive a big deal?
Galarneau: It's the epicenter of all things digital. Other conferences tend to be tilted along very specific lines: very businesslike, or technical, or social. SXSW combines everything in one big package.

SXSW: Please tell us something about yourself that may not be in your official bio.
Galarneau: If a city that I visit has a subway, I make every effort to ride it, and try to do most of my transportation underground. So far, I'm up to 42, and I'm really bummed that I didn't make it to the New Delhi or Bangalore metros when I was there last year.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. Register now to attend “In Data We Distrust: Fixing Online Privacy” and other programming at SXSW Interactive 2014. Hurry, registration prices increase at the end of the day on Friday, January 10.