As the former director of business development at Cambridge Analytica, Brittany Kaiser is a well-known whistleblower who saw how data could be weaponized to influence and manipulate people. Founder of the Own Your Data Foundation and #OwnYourData campaign is promoting and implementing digital literacy and data rights training for educators and legislators. She is the main star of Netflix original documentary "The Great Hack" and author of Targeted. As a speaker for Web Summit 2019, the world’s largest technology conference according to the Financial Times, she agreed to offer an exclusive interview for Dpo-NET .ro - Data Protection Officers Network Romania.
This weekend we have presidential elections in Romania. Regarding all the information that came through Netflix, do you have more information for us? As a joke, do you know who has already won this election?
I don't actually know about international political consultants working in Romania now, but for sure, Cambridge Analytica worked in Romania. I don't remember which party it was for, but there were not just Cambridge Analytica working on one side. Cambridge Analytica had a similar company that was working against them on the other side.
So it's very important for people to be aware that foreign intervention in elections is real, companies that work on elections as a service are real. And they didn't go away just because Cambridge Analytica doesn't exist anymore.
So it's important for people during election time to remember that you could be targeted with disinformation. You could be targeted with messaging that makes you want to disengage with politics. Try to never share that. Never share that on your social media. Never succumb to that. Always go out and vote, always care about politics and stay engaged no matter what an advertisement on Facebook might tell you to do.
Is there a solution for combating the fake news?
There are solutions. They're only starting to be built. I think it has to do a lot with blockchain technology and tracking and tracing facts, tracking and tracing provenance of real news for people that abide by ethical guidelines, journalists that are real investigative journalists, not just an article that anybody decided to clip up, which has not been well research does not have actual sources and none of those facts have been checked. It's very important to think about the technology side of the equation, as well as where this information is coming from in the first place.
What is your biggest advice for me as a citizen and a consumer?
My biggest advice is that everybody needs to care about how their data is protected. They need to actually read terms and conditions before they download an app, realize what's being collected. And if you decide that you don't want that and you want your privacy, then you need to realize you can't use that app, you need to choose your privacy over convenience. And if you start to realize that every day, then you can decide to either use ethical technology, decided to share your data or keep your privacy, but you can't have everything in this case.
How about the Data Protection Officers? Do you have specific advice for these guardians for privacy?
Yes. So I think for a data protection officer, what everyone needs to realize is that if you're advising a company, on the relationship that you have with a customer, you need to be on the side of transparency, tell a consumer what you are collecting about them, don't obfuscated in very confusing terms and conditions, tell people what you want from them, ask them to update their own data and say this is what we hold on you. Is this still relevant? Do you still like these things? Is this still your favorite color? Is this still what you eat for breakfast? And you know what, if you reward them and give them a positive incentive to do so, you'll probably get good real-time data that you can use. And you're letting people know and consent about what data you're using on them, as well.
Is the DPO working for an organization and its interests or for the interests of individuals?
Data protection officers are acting in the interest of individuals. They're making sure that companies abide by ethical guidelines to protect their consumers.