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Paper – The Grey Web

The Grey Web – Dataveillance Vision Fulfilled through the Evolving Web. Richard Gomer, University of Southampton; Natasa Milic-Frayling, Microsoft Research; m.c. schraefel, University of Southampton. 2014.

“Over the past three decades, Web has evolved from an information medium to an intricate economic ecosystem. Initially focused on supporting the transition from traditional business practices to e-commerce, the Web has given rise to new, purely Web based businesses. Aligned with the original vision and expectations of the ‘free Web’, they have provided free services but, over time, developed business models that leverage the user digital footprints and the user generated content to create economic value. With the use of computing technologies to analyze, aggregate, and share such data, individuals’ privacy has been undermined and, with that, the their ability to shape their role in the digital society and beyond. The purpose of this paper is to instigate the dialogue around the critical societal issues that arise from the current Web economy and motivate research initiatives to assist with addressing them. We present three case studies that quantify the extent, rate, and pervasiveness of the user tracking on the Web. We use them to illustrate the determining aspects of the Web that have to be taken into account by the Web Science community. As researchers we aspire to understand the nature of the Web in depth and, based on that, propose designs and policies that are required to ensure that the Web is fit to be the underpinning of our societies and our digital future.”

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