“AI evangelist” Inma Martinez is very protective of the details on the first page of her passport. Ever since she began using the internet she has used pseudonyms and fake details. “I went online before anyone knew what the internet was. I never put my real name in my email. I always invent my date of birth. I give my real name to the government and the police. To those people, I do not lie. But to people that sell me trainers? Why?”
"If you go to comparethemarket.com and just to get a quote, you are being asked where you live and your date of birth. Very soon, some governments are going to prevent companies from demending the entire first page of your passport just to get a quote for medical insurance." This illustrated one of the three key actions that she argues companies should take to comply with GDPR, and will help them get a competitive advantage by being more ethical in their use of customer data.
She said that organisations should start side-stepping the need to ask for consumers’ passport data as it makes them a target for hackers. They should also protective of the consumer data that they do hold. A data breach can have a negative impact since brand has a P&L balance sheet value for many companies. And, finally, they should show transparency, as it will give them an edge over companies that don’t.
"The evil that's coming" is the proliferation of data malpractice.
Martinez warned of “the evil that’s coming” and gave several examples of malpractice in the use of data that are currently occurring and will proliferate without strong regulation or adherence to the principles she outlined.
“Very soon ,I will ask that I don’t want my user behaviour to be mixed with other people.” She said that individuals’ details are chucked into some collective behavioural engine that means that you are treated the same as other people who are linked to you in some tenuous way.
Martinez herself felt the effect of this when her credit rating plummeted when she moved to a house two streets away while living in west London. Though the area seemed very affluent, it had pockets of deprivation and Martinez’ credit score was brought down by her proximity to poorer neighbours. She found this out by using CheckMyFile.com.
Persuasion architecture is no different from pester power in supermarkets.
Something that is in “blatantly in need of regulation” is psychological profiling in the online world where algorithms serve ads to people who are easily influenced, a tactic known as persuasion architecture. Through this, ads for gambling sites could be served to gambling addicts or ads for porn sites could be served to children.
Martinez equated this tactic to supermarkets displaying chocolates at the eye-level of children in checkout lines in the 1990s, hoping that pester power would increase the sales of the sweets. “This psychological profiling is not for your benefit. It’s to discover weaknesses. They want to make you do things that are not that great. ”
Profile inferencing is another tactic that Martinez feels needs to be controlled through regulation. This is where organisations like social media platforms create shadow profiles for people who had never been on that site, through jigsaw identification. If your friends mention your name in their posts and put your name in captions of pictures, they can use image recognition and cross-referencing on a particular social platform which could build a shadow profile for you - and you would be none the wiser.
Content radicalisation is Martinez’s “favourite one”. This is the use of algorithms to choose which videos people will see on auto play after watching one YouTube video. She gave an example of someone watching a Donald Trump Ohio speech video and five videos later being shown content from white supremacists.
While this dystopian data reality may already be in existence to different degrees, Martinez hopes that through adherence to the regulations and a spirit of goodwill from organisations, some aspects can be reversed.
Inma Martinez was speaking at the Information Builders Summit.