On Day 2 of the official Digital Hive Summit we heard some similar themes discussed around the importance of trust in the new digital economy and the need for greater collaboration, knowledge and capacity building.
Key takeouts from Day 2 included:
Connection and protection in the consumer Internet of Things
(Helena Leurent, Consumers International; Andrew Sullivan, The Internet Society; Rita Hagl-Kehl, German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection; Justin Brookman, Consumer Reports; and, Ashley Boyd, Mozilla)
The panel discussed consumer attitudes and actions when it comes to IoT: consumers often regard IoT devices as ‘creepy’ and yet still purchase the products. Both product safety protections and greater transparency, education and consumer choice were discussed.
How can consumers tell if Artificial Intelligence is on their side?
(Henrique Lian, PROTESTE; Jake Lucchi, Google Asia Pacific; Liz Coll, Consumers International; Ashim Sanyal, Consumer VOICE)
PROTESTE proposed that conceptually, AI is the new ‘invisible hand’ of the market. Consumers International today released an ethnographic research report on AI, which Consumer Policy Research Centre was pleased to have had an opportunity to contribute to.
Key conclusions included the follow needs:
Consumer VOICE commented that consumers are often in the AI system without making a choice to be so. AI has lots of potential positives, such as assisting people with disabilities. Regulation is only at the start of working out effective remedies, and consumer groups and government need to have a technical capability to do so.
Google commented that AI can support better research for good social outcomes, they are making their datasets more publicly available and partnering with academia, government and civil society. Privacy, bias, explainability and accountability are all emerging issues in this space. Google also acknowledged there are clear areas where more regulation is required, including safety and liability. EuroConsumers put forward the view that there needs to be greater regulation to protect the economic interests of consumers in the market, especially when their data is helping to build the AI.
Smart from the start: best practices in privacy and security for smart products
(Frederic Donck, The Internet Society; Taylor Bentley, Government of Canada; Jeff Wilbur, The Internet Society; Ed Venmore-Rowland, UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; Kat Megas, National Institute of Standards and Technology USA).
This session examined developments in IoT principles, standards and regulations in the USA, Canada and the UK.
Access at any cost? How to build confidence in consumers around the Internet
(Teresa Moreira, UNCTAD; Nanjira Sambuli, World Wide Web Foundation; Lillian Nalwoga, CIPESA; Dimitar Dimitrov, Wikimedia)
This session highlighted the different issues for internet accessibility in developed and developing nations.
Teresa from UNCTAD highlighted key issues with mobile internet access – can be more expensive and lower quality. Issue has been addressed through services offering free internet in exchange for using their services, but this too comes with additional risks.
Inspirations for the future – coming together for change
(Helena Leurent, Consumers International; Gilly Wong, Hong Kong Consumer Council; Rosemary Siyachitema, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe; Henrique Lian, PROTESTE; Ashley Boyd, Mozilla; and, Hugh Weldon, EVOCCO)
The panel reflected on the main messages coming out of the conference: better transparency, diversity, collective action and securing fair value are key.
The Hong Kong Consumer Council noted that:
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe commented that:
PROTESTE noted that:
EVOCCO commented that the elephant in the room is that to be sustainable we need to have less consumption. Sustainability isn’t a choice – it is the new context, underlying theme in every consumer decision we make.
Mozilla stated that the real urgency should be for consumer organisations to address the gap between people’s concerns and people’s actions. Consumers are concerned about products’ trustworthiness but keep buying. Something needs to shift in that paradigm. Lastly, Mozilla called for everyone to reimagine this paradigm and start thinking about the role of women when it comes to the internet – also as the major household purchasers, what if we made them the primary audience for everything that we do?
And that’s a wrap! Another jam-packed day of debate again today and lasting messages for all to go home and start taking action. The gap between Australia’s policy framework and the developments internationally has never been quite so stark to us as it is right now.
We’re so grateful to have met and heard from a clever, diverse and passionate group of consumer & policy experts from around the world. We hope you’ve enjoyed the updates and we can’t wait to get home to put these learnings into action and work towards a better digital world for Australian consumers!
Lauren and Brigid