September 30, 2019
We recently brought together our COO Dr. Martyn Farrows and Dr. Veronica Barassi, an anthropologist at the University of London, for a conversation on privacy. You can watch the full 7 minute interview here.
During the discussion Veronica explains why privacy has become such a huge concern, particularly when it comes to kids. She makes the link between protecting kids’ data and their right to self expression, moral autonomy and safety from discrimination.
“We are seeing a gathering of large amounts of personal data [on kids] from before conception. This data is gathered from a variety of sources, and includes the health data of the child, their educational data, home data and social media data. All of this data can be aggregated into a unique ID profile that potentially can follow the child across a lifetime.”
At SoapBox Labs we talk a lot about our Privacy-by-Design approach to engineering, collecting data, and running our business as a whole. Veronica calls this approach “an ethical responsibility” for companies while Martyn explains how it works in practice:
“[Other voice systems] for adults rely on knowing who you are. You have to have an account in order to be able to start using them, and all of the data that is being collected is then associated with your account and associated to you”. “[At SoapBox Labs] we make no attempt at any stage to identify the individual identity of the child”.
Back in April 2019, we collaborated with Dr. Barassi on a submission to the OHCHR as she explains here:
“I believe in good practices. And I believe that we need to change the way we are seeing and operating with technologies. What I find fascinating [about SoapBox Labs] is that you understand the power of voice and the problems that come with voice prints”.
So, what’s next for us and for all companies in the voice industry when it comes to privacy?
“[We need to] find a solution that doesn’t require the collection of personal data. The logical conclusion is to take all of this speech technology offline. You can take it offline, and there is no personal data connected to the cloud. The personal data that’s collected, if it is collected, stays on the device, with the owner or the parent.” Martyn explains.