Faculty Colloquium III: Kai Spiekermann

Start date

Wednesday 10 Mar 2021, 17:00

End date

Wednesday 10 Mar 2021, 18:30

Tick Here to Diminish Your Agency: The Moral Limits of Consent for Data Use

Social media sites and other platforms collect, store and process user data. They then analyze these large datasets to draw inferences about their users and the general population. The literature on data collection and consent has questioned whether users give valid informed consent. We, however, show that the important question is not about the validity of consent but rather whether the actions that follow are within the scope of consent. Consent aims at transforming the landscape of rights such that normally impermissible actions become permissible. But this transformation, we argue, is not normally successful in the case of data collection because of the agency-undermining features of big data applications. We show that big data exploitation typically leads to agency loss for the User and the Bystander, establishing a pro tanto case that consent to data storage and analysis does not successfully transform rights.

About the speaker:

Kai Spiekermann is Professor of Political Philosophy and the Doctoral Programme Director in the Department of Government at the London School of Economics. Among his research interests are normative and positive political theory, philosophy of the social sciences, social epistemology and environmental change. He is particularly interested in applying formal methods, computational simulations, and experiments to problems in political philosophy. His recent publications have focused on mechanisms of norm avoidance, strategic ignorance and moral knowledge, on information aggregation, jury theorems and epistemic democracy, and on reductionism and holism in the social sciences.