The Surveillance Project:

Data Story

PART 2/2

CLASSROOM PROJECT

OCAD University

Mentor: Isabel Meirelles
From Data to Perception

TEAM

Manisha Laroia

DURATION

2 weeks | 2020

DATA MAPPING & REPRESENTATION

/ ABOUT

The Surveillance Study is a two-part project which involved collecting data and using it to create a 'city-level intervention' for the residents to interact with the data. This second part of the project was to build a Data Story using the data research conducted and data collected. 

/ CONTEXT
Through this project I continued the work we had started as a team for the Part 1: City Intervention project with studying, mapping and analyzing the surveillance at a city level in Toronto, primarily focusing on the Entertainment District (4 blocks around the OCAD U graduate building where we were co-located). The Data Story was reworked to accommodate the need of the times with the Covid-19 pandemic.

/ APPROACH

In this Data Story Project I addressed the following:

  • Studying two data stories from The New York Times on Privacy policies and their relevance to user/consumers.

  • Analyzing these stories and comparing them to our findings of the City Intervention project; in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic. With the Covid-19 restrictions, suddenly all streets are empty, and people had moved all work online using camera/video-based software applications.

  • Taking inspiration from visualizations in the NYT stories and a few other projects in the space, I created a visualization to compare the Privacy policies of the offline video surveillance to online video surveillance.

/ DATA STORY ANALYSIS

What is a Data Story?

Data stories explore and explain how and why data changes over time, usually through a series of linked visualizations. The story and outcome are dramatic, but at its heart, this is a data story. It contains data points on time, location, volume, trend, significance and proportion (Source: Gartner).

DATA STORY 1
Google’s 4,000-Word Privacy Policy Is a Secret History of the Internet
Warzel, Charlie, and Ash Ngu. “Opinion | Google’s 4,000-Word Privacy Policy Is a Secret History of the Internet.” The
New York Times, 10 July 2019. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/07/10/opinion/googleprivacy-
policy.html.

The data story analyzes the privacy policies of Google over the last twenty years from 1999 to 2019, where once the policy was a 600-word and has now evolved into a 4000-word document. The policy has undergone several changes through its 30-version evolution and is analyzed in the data story as a documented history of the internet and the changes it went through that were accommodated in the policies. The web over the last two decades has become complex and the
policy was revamped over the years to cater to this complexity. The below visualization (Image 1) from the data story demonstrates the cumulative change in the length of the policies that evolved over the two decades.

DATA STORY 2
What’s Going On in This Graph? | Internet Privacy Policies
The Learning Network. “What’s Going On in This Graph? | Internet Privacy Policies.” The New York Times, 2 Jan. 2020. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/02/learning/whats-going-on-in-this-graph-internet-privacypolicies.html.

The Internet Privacy Policy Graph by ‘The Learning Network’ of the NY Times with their collaborator, the American Statistical Association was part of an online facilitated discussion for students. This graph, which shows the reading level and time (in minutes) required to read internet privacy policies for 150 popular websites and apps plus a few books with respect to each other. This graph was a starting point for its largely read article, titled 'We Read 150 Privacy Policies.'

"They were an incomprehensible disaster" said Kevin Litman-Navarro as part of The Privacy Project.

The graph shows the most concise and simple privacy policy by BBC and on the other hand is the privacy policy by Airbnb, the app used by 360 million users for short term rentals and requires more than 35 minutes to read by a professional literary expert. The discussion followed on the graph asks the question “We value our privacy and are reluctant to have our data freely shared, but do these complex policies really protect us?” (The Learning Network). Reiterating the notion of Privacy vs Profit, it talks about how relinquishing some of our privacy and data is necessary as part of the process of making the internet experience better but in turn, the policies we tick should be made more understandable.

/ MY PROCESS & RESEARCH

I continue to build on the findings of the City Intervention project. To create the Data Story I visualized the data findings and analyzed the privacy policies of the city surveillance system in comparison to the online policies to show the difference in scrutiny we give online policies but not offline city policies. In turn that the Data Story would create awareness about the city policies which are not so actively taken up in discussions as online policies of apps and websites.


To narrow down the scope of the comparison and to take into consideration the context of the world moving to work-for-home in the Covid-19 pandemic situation as I was doing the research; I decided to compare offline city camera privacy policies to the online camera/video-based software applications.

With online-offline boundaries blurring out with each passing day, it was an interesting analysis with some surprising outcomes. For evaluating the polices I used the same tool and graph as NY Times in Data Story 2 i.e. Lexile, along with Polisis (an AI-based software that analysis privacy policies). The  Data was collected during part 1 of the project i.e. City Intervention. 

 

Interestingly, with City-level data tracking and surveillance people often don’t notice and are unaware of the policies unlike the policies on Internet-based applications. 

 

My attempt with the Data Story documented below is:• To bring to light both the offline and online aspects of surveillance and privacy, and• Also make people aware of how we as residents and citizens of future cities need to

look at city privacy policies with the same scrutiny as we look at Internet policies. In the Data Story on the following pages, I have explored a surface-level exploration of the policies and how user-centric they are in nature using various criteria and their associated visual representations. 

 

With future research and scope, I would like to dig deep into the context of the policies further and explore visualizing more of the content for easy of understanding for the user and to also compare and analyze the nuances of the policies in terms of data usage, storage, sharing and security.

city camera surveillance.jpg

/ ABOUT THE VISUAL

Data collected by City Camera Surveillance as per their Policy. Analyzed on Polisis.

t_data.png

/ ABOUT THE VISUAL

Word tree analysis on the MS Teams app Policy. Analyzed on wordtree.org.

THE DATA STORY

Offline-Online Video Surveillance Policies

and Practices

How do we ensure the policies of City surveillance and security are transparent and are given the same scrutiny that online policies are given?

Data story_VISUALS-1.jpg

The Data Story compares offline city camera privacy policies to the online camera/video-based software applications i.e. comparing the city video/camera surveillance policy the City council, Traffic/Transport cameras and the Toronto Public Library(city public space) with video-based web/mobile applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Instagram which are being heavily used in common practice in the current scenario.

With the online and offline boundaries blurring, parallels can be drawn between the video surveillance practices across both.

 

Like in the policies of the Big Tech companies, the “aggregate user” was over the years changed to addressing individuals with the incoming of targeted advertising and data tracking for individual profiles. 

In the context of cities “facial recognition has long been used on static images to
identify arrested suspects and detect driver's license fraud, among other things.

 

With recent advances in AI and computer-vision facial recognition is easier with the video feed from CCTVs. Privacy advocates have highlighted that the ongoing use of the technology in this way would redefine the traditional anonymity of public spaces” (Barber and Simonite) and I ask the questions; How do we reiterate the city policies to keep up with these technological changes?

With the rise of the desktop and banner advertising and the mobile revolution, which
allowed new forms of advertising and tracking, Google began to take in more and more personal data to build an advertising model and business.

In the context of cities the individual targeting has increased with Facial recognition, targeted advertisement billboards(Webb) and private cameras popping up on each nook and cranny in the name of security and safety, but with no guidelines defining the use and application of these devices.

“The biggest recent overhaul of Big Tech's policy came in May 2018, in response to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R.

In the context of City surveillance, this change is being initiated by citizens and activist to ensure public space do not transform into data tracking hubs and individuals are not targeted like in the case of Dr. Cindy Blackstock, who suspected the Canadian government discriminated against indigenous children by underfunding their social services and was surveilled globally along with her near and dear ones (Belmont). There are complaints of private security cameras looking into neighbouring houses, home cameras being hacked and with over 65 cameras every 100 meters capturing people on the road opposite our school building.

Studying the policies of the popular Technology websites, The Learning Network (from where this scatter graph is borrowed) asked the question “We value our privacy and are reluctant to have our data freely shared, but do these complex policies really protect us?”

 

Reiterating the notion of Privacy vs Profit, it talks about how relinquishing some of our privacy and data is necessary as part of the process of making the internet experience better but in turn, the policies we tick
should be made more understandable.

 

In the context of the City surveillance policies, the same is true. As a responsible resident of the city, one is bound by the laws of surveillance for security, but one should not be kept in the dark about the policies and what they take from your data. 

The policies of companies like Google became longer and more complex over the last two decades as analyzed in the NYT Data Story. The analysis of the changes in the policy is a crucial discussion that outlines the decisions that impacted the way the internet was used and the nuances of the changing relationship of the world’s largest internet organization and the billions of users that interact with it.

 

The same knowledge can be used to observe the policies of the city and people changing relationship with the security of the city as the city adopts new and more invasive technologies be it- CCTV cameras, drones or even the smart-city technologies being currently adopted under the Google Sidewalk Labs project in Toronto.

 

The city policies of security and surveillance must also change and be made suitable to the complex context we live in. Issues like the guidelines for private surveillance cameras, the inability of a citizen to not-opt out of the surveillance and the awareness of what is being tracked and where the data is going needs to be more transparent and/or even accountable to the citizen in many cases. 

The internet was a democratic realm with the user community and their permissions deciding the way the internet is used. And then there was the Big tech corporation which became too big to control and regulations crept in with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the
CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in the last two years.

 

Cities, on the other hand, are already
democratic and regulated by the government that govern how they run, but with more cities become smarter and surveilled, it raises the question that in the evolving context of online privacy
policies and regulations: 

How do we ensure the policies of City surveillance and security are transparent and are given the same scrutiny that online policies are given?

/ REFERENCES

Barber, Gregory, and Tom Simonite. “Some US Cities Are Moving Into Real-Time Facial Surveillance.” Wired.
www.wired.com, https://www.wired.com/story/some-us-cities-moving-real-time-facial-surveillance/.
Accessed 13 Apr. 2020.


Belmont, Veronica. IRL Podcast: I Spy With My Digital Eye. irlpodcast.org,
https://irlpodcast.org/season1/episode5/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2020.


City Examines Regulating Use of Home Surveillance Cameras - CityNews Toronto.
https://toronto.citynews.ca/2020/02/14/privacy-vs-security-city-examines-regulating-use-of-homesurveillance-
cameras/. Accessed 14 Apr. 2020.


City of Toronto, City Clerk. City of Toronto Security Video Surveillance Policy. City Council, July 2006,
https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/2006/agendas/council/cc060725/admcl021a.pdf.

“City of Toronto Says You Need Permission to Photograph Your Own Kids in a Park or Outdoor Rink.”Thestar.Com, 4 Dec. 2015. www.thestar.com, https://www.thestar.com/news/city-hallblog/2015/12/city-of-toronto-says-you-need-permission-to-photograph-your-own-kids-in-a-park-oroutdoor-rink.html.

Kaye, Kate, and Kate Kaye. “This Startup Wants to Help Smart Cities. But They Don’t Know Where Its DataComes from.” Fast Company, 6 Mar. 2020. www.fastcompany.com,https://www.fastcompany.com/90465315/this-startup-wants-to-help-smart-cities-but-they-still-dontknow-where-its-data-comes-from.

Litman-Navarro, Kevin. “Opinion | We Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible Disaster.”
The New York Times, 12 June 2019. NYTimes.com,
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/12/opinion/facebook-google-privacy-policies.html,
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/06/12/opinion/facebook-google-privacy-policies.html.


Network, The Learning. “What’s Going On in This Graph? | Internet Privacy Policies.” The New York Times, 2
Jan. 2020. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/02/learning/whats-going-on-in-thisgraph-
internet-privacy-policies.html.
Polisis AI Reads Privacy Policies So You Don’t Have To | WIRED. https://www.wired.com/story/polisis-aireads-
privacy-policies-so-you-dont-have-to/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2020.


Printing Out The Privacy Policies Of Facebook, Snap, And Others.
https://www.fastcompany.com/90171107/printing-out-the-privacy-policies-of-facebook-snap-andothers?
cid=search. Accessed 2 Apr. 2020.


“Security Video Surveillance Policy.” Toronto Public Library. www.torontopubliclibrary.ca,
https://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/terms-of-use/library-policies/security-video-surveillancespolicy.
jsp. Accessed 14 Apr. 2020.

 

Traffic Monitoring Camera Policy.Pdf. https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/960e-Traffic-Management_Traffic-Monitoring-Camera-Policy_Final_a.pdf. Accessed 14 Apr. 2020.
 

Transport Services Division, City of Toronto. Traffic Monitoring Camera Policy. Mar. 2016, p. 21.
https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/960e-Traffic-Management_Traffic-Monitoring-
Camera-Policy_Final_a.pdf.


Warzel, Charlie, and Ash Ngu. “Opinion | Google’s 4,000-Word Privacy Policy Is a Secret History of the
Internet.” The New York Times, 10 July 2019. NYTimes.com,
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/07/10/opinion/google-privacy-policy.html,
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/07/10/opinion/google-privacy-policy.html.


Webb, Alex. Google’s Targeted Ads Are Coming to a Billboard Near You - Bloomberg.
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-08-10/google-s-targeted-ads-are-coming-to-abillboard-
near-you. Accessed 13 Apr. 2020.


What Are The Rules On Public Security Cameras In Ontario? - CityNews Toronto.
https://toronto.citynews.ca/2007/10/25/what-are-the-rules-on-public-security-cameras-in-ontario/.
Accessed 14 Apr. 2020.


Zoom Communications Inc. “Video Conferencing, Web Conferencing, Webinars, Screen Sharing.” Zoom
Video. zoom.us, https://zoom.us/. Accessed 13 Apr. 2020.


*Referenced ‘The Noun Project’ (www.thenounproject.com) for the icons in the Data Visualization, under
the creative commons use policy.

  • Be
  • Pinterest - Black Circle
  • Twitter - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle
  • LinkedIn - Black Circle
  • Tumblr - Black Circle
  • Vimeo - Black Circle

Copyright © 2019 Manisha Laroia. All rights reserved.

Made with  | Organized with Wix.com