Presented by HC Coombs Policy Forum and Charles Sturt University

Social Media, Privacy and Security: Identifying and managing the public policy risks

Friday 11 March 2011, 10.30am – 2pm
Molonglo Theatre, JG Crawford Building Building #132, Lennox Crossing, ANU

The HC Coombs Policy Forum at the ANU, in conjunction with Charles Sturt University, is holding a high-level, invitation-only scoping workshop on Social Media, Privacy and Security.

There has been a huge uptake of social media in recent years. Facebook was launched only in 2004, but by the end of 2010 it had over 500 million members worldwide, and it is reported that 100 million photographs are uploaded each day with an equal number of messages exchanged. The extraordinary growth in social media use is not limited to private individuals: government agencies and corporations are increasingly using Web 2.0 technologies to foster interand intra-organisational collaboration and to connect with clients and stakeholders.

Paralleling the growth of social networking sites such as Facebook, which encourage users to reveal a great deal of information about themselves and their social networks, there is increasing use of smartphones equipped with GPS locator devices and high-resolution cameras. In addition, there is now widespread consumer use of photo recognition technologies online, allowing users to “tag” photographs with a person’s name, and for sets of photographs to be scanned for appearances of those “tagged” people.

This convergence of technologies and the widespread adoption of social media by individuals, corporations and government raises questions about privacy and security that have considerable social, legal and public policy implications. Can social media use lead to unwanted or inappropriate disclosure of personal information, negatively impacting on an individual’s ability to undertake certain government work such as undercover roles in police and intelligence agencies? Might revealing too much in one’s Facebook profile (or maybe even too little) damage professional reputation and career opportunities, with selection/promotion panels referring to social media profiles, bypassing merit selection methodology and anti-discrimination legislation? Is the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies by Australian corporations and government agencies creating new information security problems that outweigh the potential benefits of social media?

Effective identification and management of the privacy and security risks associated with using the different types of social media in a variety of contexts is essential to underpin the benefits that these technologies offer. Further research is needed before it can be determined whether a public policy response is required or indeed, whether a response can be effectively implemented given the speed at which these events are occurring.


The specific objectives are:


Participation is by invitation only. There will be short presentations followed by roundtable discussion. All discussions will be subject to the Chatham House rule.


10.30Arrival Morning Tea
11 – 12pmContext and Scene Setting
Privacy, Policing and Security
Mick Keelty and Professor Nick O’Brien, ANU & CSU
Web 2.0: Context, uptake and implications
Dr Rob Ackland, ADSRI, ANU
Panel Discussion and Q&A Session
Mr John Sheridan
Acting Australian Government Chief Information Office and Deputy Secretary, Australian Government Information Management Office Department of Finance and Deregulation
Dr Abbas Bigdeli
Intelligent Surveillance & Smart Sensors, Safeguarding Australia Program, National ICT Australia
Professor Simon Bronitt
Director, ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security
12 – 1pmLunch
1 – 2pmResearch and Public Policy Implications
Results of pilot survey conducted in the law enforcement community
Mick Keelty and Prof Nick O’Brien, ANU & CSU
Face recognition: existing possibilities and applications
Dr Abbas Bigdeli, National ICT Australia
Implications for public policy
Dr Mark Matthews, HC Coombs Policy Forum, ANU
Wrap up and next steps

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