Capital City Complex Systems Symposium

Rethinking consent in socially-networked environments with models of distributed consent

Keynote presentation by Juniper Lovato, Vermont Complex Systems Center

Personal data are not discrete in socially-networked digital environments. A user who consents to allow access to their profile can expose the personal data of their network connections to non-consented access.

The conventional consent model, relying on informed and individual consent, proves inadequate in such dynamic ecosystems where information is distributed across users. When a user grants access to their profile, the personal data of their network connections may inadvertently become exposed to non-consented access.

In this talk, we delve into the challenges posed by the traditional consent model within social networks. Recognising the limitations of individual consent, we propose two new models: a platform-specific “distributed consent” and a cross-platform “consent passport.” These models empower individuals and groups to coordinate their consent, conditional on that of their network connections. By doing so, we aim to address the inherent complexities of data transactions in socially-connected spaces.

Through simulations, we assess the impact of these distributed consent models on the observability of social networks. Our findings reveal that low adoption of these models allows macroscopic subsets of networks to maintain their connectivity and privacy. Join us as we explore the potential of reimagining consent mechanisms to adapt to the intricacies of socially-networked environments, ensuring a more robust and privacy-conscious digital future.