[PIG] RFC: Consent Protocols


[PIG] Consent Protocols

Team member names

Riley Wong (they/them), Emergent Research
Val Elefante (she/they), Metagov

Short summary of your improvement idea

Co-design, develop, and implement consent protocols inspired by cultural frameworks for consent (i.e. feminist, sex-positive, kink/BDSM, LGBTQIA+). Publish research laying out a framework for improving consent in collective data governance (i.e. data co-ops, trusts, coalitions, etc.) and release open-source prototypes of composable UX features for consent interfaces.

What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance?

We want to improve consent protocols and interfaces for collective data governance.

Examples of existing data collection, sharing, and governance protocols that we hope to improve include: traditional terms of service and privacy policy agreements (i.e. Big Tech); opt-in vs. opt-out; cookie consent interfaces; requests to be forgotten; Creative Commons; GPL3 licensing; regulation frameworks such as GDPR in the EU and CCPA in California; and the socio-technical approaches being taken by nonprofits such as Open Data Manchester, Open Referral, and the Open Data Institute.

What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

How can clear, effective, and fluid models of consent be built into digital public infrastructure and data governance?

We believe that current data governance protocols can be improved with insights, practices, and embodied wisdom of intersectional feminist, sex-positive, BDSM/kink, LGBTQIA+ communities’ frameworks for consent. We want to extend these cultural frameworks of consent into protocols that can be applied to digital space and collective governance.

Some examples of cultural frameworks for consent we will explore include: Betty Martin’s Wheel of Consent, University Title IX Policies of Affirmative Consent; “Yes Means Yes”; Informed Consent; Sociocracy’s “Consent Decision-Making”; willing vs. wanting; safewords; the role of community guardians; non-verbal consent, and more. These frameworks have proven effective at promoting agency for individuals and communities. We are eager to explore how they may be adapted in different contexts, broken down, and/or blended together to improve individual and collective decision-making about data.

Diagram of the Wheel of Consent, Source

What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol? Eg: field observation, expert interviews, historical data analysis, failure event analysis

  1. Field research: conducting an analysis of data collection and privacy policies across major platforms, both commercial and nonprofit, such as Reddit, Wikipedia, Signal, Arena, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and more.

  2. Expert interviews: interviewing experts in consent and governance, such as those working at or with: Creative Commons; Open Data Manchester; Open Referral; GPL3 licensing; Wikipedia and commons-based peer production; trauma-informed and somatic consent practices; GDPR in the EU, CCPA in California, and privacy law; cookie consent interfaces; and data collectives like the Open Data Institute. Also interviewing experts in sex work, transgender care, and reproductive justice, e.g. Danielle Blunt from Hacking//Husting; Lips.social; Digital Defense Fund; Red Canary Song; the Trans Revolutionary Action Network; and more.

  3. Participatory co-design: recruiting community members, especially those most vulnerable and impacted by digital consent practices, including sex workers, community members seeking or advocating for transgender care, and community members seeking or advocating for reproductive justice. Using Miro to create interactive experiences for participants to brainstorm, deliberate, and interact with design elements (speaking, writing, and drawing) and documenting the co-design process in blog posts.

In what form will you prototype your improvement idea? Eg: Code, reference design implementation, draft proposal shared with experts for feedback, A/B test of ideas with a test audience, prototype hardware, etc.

  1. Research: Drafting a white paper and report laying out a framework for improving consent in collective data governance, shared with identified experts for feedback.

  2. UX mockups: Co-designing and prototyping with members of the targeted communities including sex workers, BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ community members, and reproductive justice advocates.

How will you field-test your improvement idea? Eg: run a restricted pilot at an event, simulation, workshop, etc.

Conduct virtual co-design sessions inviting small groups to interact with the designs, engage in discussion, offer feedback, and collaboratively iterate on changes.

Who will be able to judge the quality of your output? Ideally name a few suitable judges.

  • Una Lee, The Consentful Tech Project
  • Coraline Ada Ehmke, The Social Compact
  • Danielle Blunt, Hacking//Husting
  • adrienne maree brown, Pleasure Activism
  • Zahra Stardust, Data Governance Legal Scholar
  • Betty Martin, Wheel of Consent
  • David Jay, Relationality Lab
  • Glenn Brown, Creative Commons
  • Katherine Bertash, Digital Defense Fund
  • Lisa Featherstone, University of Queensland

How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea? Eg: Submit proposal to a standards body, publish open-source code, produce and release a software development kit etc.

We will publish a white paper, report, and series of blog posts detailing our research, co-design, and prototype testing processes for academic and mainstream audiences.

As members of both Metagov, a governance research collective, and DWeb, a community for the networked and distributed web, we share research and collaborate with leading experts working on: modular and composable governance; exit to community; the digital commons; digital public infrastructure; platform coops; federated networks; interoperable protocols; personal data stores (e.g. Solid); decentralized identity; data trusts; and more. These networks provide ample opportunities for feedback and collaboration through Metagov seminars, research presentations, and community discussions.

We will also publish and open-source the UX prototype library on Github or on our own project website, which we will design and launch for sharing all public materials as well as forming partnerships for future potential partnerships and collaborations with targeted organizations.

What is the success vision for your idea?

A successful execution of this project will include the following deliverables:

  1. completing multiple facilitated co-design sessions and interviews with community members and experts;
  2. publishing research and writing on consent protocol frameworks in the form of a white paper, report, and blog posts; and
  3. publicly releasing prototypes for consent-based interfaces.

This is tight – I really like this recombinant approach to developing new data protocols you’re taking here (Ghost in the Shell comes to mind haha). AI driven data sovereignty considerations and therefore data protocols seem like a big missing piece right now, especially around things like community data trusts, data coops, DAO’s, etc. The proposed work has lots of important applications!

1 Like

This is such a meaningful goal. I’ve often wanted for a similar protocol to point folks to that wasn’t focused on sexual relations. I’m excited to see this work be made available to a broader variety of interactions, especially online where power dynamics can easily become baked in and ossified.

1 Like