Dr. Gwen Shaffer, California State University Long Beach – Long Beach’s “digital rights platform” and efforts to ensure residents’ data privacy

Wednesday, November 16th, 2022

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Join us for a special ARNIC seminar on 11/16 5PM PT led by Dr. Gwen Shaffer from California State University Long Beach titled [Long Beach’s “digital rights platform” and efforts to ensure residents’ data privacy]

Smart city platforms–encompassing mobile apps, cameras, sensors, algorithms, and predictive analytics—function as surveillance tools. These Internet-connected devices and services generate troves of data on residents, including travel patterns, mobile device identifiers, Internet browsing history, phone contacts, and more. Research suggests that excessive surveillance reinforces a sense of insecurity and leads residents to fear civil liberties violations, particularly among communities of color. This project considers the technical, legal, ethical, and spatial aspects of smart technologies.

Grounded in frameworks of trust and contextual integrity, the project is a collaboration with the City of Long Beach to create a digital rights platform. The platform advances goals associated with two critical and closely intersecting priorities: operationalizing Long Beach’s Data Privacy Guidelines and implementation of its Framework for Reconciliation. First, the platform will feature text and the open-source Digital Trust for Places and Routines (DTPR) iconography that visually conveys how the City uses specific technologies, what data the devices collect and how the City utilizes that data. We plan to strategically deploy these information points across the City, physically adjacent to or digitally embedded within civic technologies, e.g., sensors, cameras, small cells, mobile payment kiosks, and a 311 app. The platform will include a feedback application consisting of access (via QR code or hyperlink) to an online space where users may learn additional details, update data collection preferences, and share comments/concerns with local government officials. The talk will touch on data collected from about 35 residents who interacted with the platform during an October 2022 pilot, when we posted two privacy rights notices.

Gwen Shaffer is an associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Public Relations at California State University Long Beach, where she teaches internet regulation and communication law & policy courses. Her telecommunications policy research examines the complex nature of social exclusion in the informational age, with a focus on data privacy and “smart city” technologies such as surveillance cameras and automated license plate readers. Dr. Shaffer chairs the City of Long Beach Technology and Innovation Commission, which advises the Mayor and City Council on relevant policy issues.

Dr. Shaffer has published in the Journal of Information Policy; the International Journal of Human Computer InteractionMedia, Culture & SocietyFirst Monday; and the Association for Computing Machinery’s Transactions on Internet Technology, among other journals. The National Science Foundation; the John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation; the Media, Inequality & Change Center; and METRANS Transportation Center have funded her research.

email arnic@usc.edu for more details