Grant will make your clicks more transparent
You’re constantly using apps and websites on your smartphone, tablet, PC or other digital devices. These applications collect information about you and your behavior, but we know too little about how this data is used, shared, and sold. Professor of Computer Science at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Fabrizio Montesi and Professor of Political Communication at the Digital Democracy Centre Claes de Vreese have just received a 3 million DKK grant from the VILLUM FOUNDATION to make your clicks more transparent and accessible.
Professor Fabrizio Montesi of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the Faculty of Science has just received a grant of DKK 3 million from the Villum Synergy programme, VILLUM FONDEN. He receives the grant together with Professor Claes de Vreese from the Digital Democracy Centre at the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences – both at the University of Southern Denmark – for their project: Explainable Internet Data Flows (X-IDF).
A new language
When your data leaves the web browser, we only know in broad strokes what happens. How our data is used is typically described in texts about “cookie preferences”, which can be incomplete and difficult to read. In other words, we only know to a limited extent how the extensive collection of personal data and information on user behaviour takes place.
We want users to get answers to questions like: Who gets my data? What is it used for? Can I be identified? Can I be geolocated? And who exactly can do that?
– We hope to find clear and user-friendly language to express the data flows that take place between the users and those who collect and sell our data. We need better ways for users to understand the flow of internet data. At the same time, users should have more say over the data they leave behind. Because if we can’t trust those who sell and use our data, mistrust will grow, which risks damaging both democracy and the ability to translate new ideas that can create value for us all, says Fabrizio Montesi.
– We want users to get answers to questions like: Who gets my data? What is it used for? Can I be identified? Can I be geolocated? And who exactly can do that? Fabrizio Montesi explains.
A common approach
The grant will help Fabrizio Montesi and Claes de Vreese find answers to these questions. They will examine our clicks on the internet, but also our knowledge of and attitudes towards the stream of internet data that these clicks leave behind. In doing so, the two researchers will develop an app that can explain and make sense of our data, and ultimately make data understandable, accessible, and usable for all of us.
About Villum Synergi
Villum Synergy is Denmark’s largest programme for data-driven interdisciplinary research.
Since its establishment three years ago, the programme has supported 35 research projects with a total of DKK 154 million.
With the Villum Synergy programme, VILLUM FONDEN wants to strengthen data-driven interdisciplinary research. The programme is targeted at researchers from computer science, statistics and applied mathematics, in collaboration with researchers from a wide range of other fields – from technical and natural sciences to the humanities and social sciences.
– I am delighted to receive the grant together with Claes and to have the potential of our collaboration recognized. I look forward to starting the project and hope that it can inspire others to work further with researchers from a wide range of other fields – such as the intersection between computer science and social sciences, says Fabrizio Montesi.
Claes de Vreese also sees great value in interdisciplinary collaboration:
– I am very pleased with the grant for our exciting and important project, which concerns us all. But I am particularly pleased with the message of supporting interdisciplinary research, which is fully in line with the mission of the Digital Democracy Centre.
– For the project to succeed, it requires a joint design approach across computer science and social sciences. And the project will involve methods ranging from mathematical modelling of data flows to social surveys of user perceptions. I couldn’t be more excited to get started, concludes an enthusiastic Fabrizio Montesi.