Audiovisual Search: Regulatory Challenges for Audiovisual Abundance

Last fall I had the pleasure of participating in a “Forum on Quaero: A public think tank on the politics of the search engine” hosted by the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands. My talk at that event outlined the unique privacy threats that are emerging as search engines — like Quaero — increasingly focus on indexing multimedia content (images, videos, etc), as well as traditional Web pages.

Following up on this discussion, the Institute of Information Law at the University of Amsterdam are holding an Expert Workshop on”Audiovisual Search: Regulatory Challenges for Audiovisual Abundance” on April 12, 2008:

In an environment with unlimited amounts of information available on open platforms such as the internet, the availability or accessibility of audiovisual content is becoming less of an issue than in the past . The real question is how to find the information about audiovisual content and the content itself. Electronic programming guides are one way to find information. But in an internet environment, search engines are becoming the most important gateway used to find content.

The workshop will discuss both programming guides and search engines. What are their limitations, what kind of new developments can be expected. In particular, the regulatory environment will be assessed: at present, both electronic programming guides and search engines fall largely outside the scope of (tele-)communications and media regulation. In the open online environment of the Internet everyone can easily publish audiovisual content. The developing technology of audiovisual search will increasingly define how we will navigate the emerging audiovisual landscape. The proposed multi-stranded approach of this expert workshop offers a unique opportunity to gain further insights into relevant questions and to provide additional input for law- and policy-makers, as well as industry players and civil society interest groups.

I have been asked by IViR to lead a discussion on the ethical dimensions of audiovisual search, especially as they relate to privacy and user profiling. (See, for example, my posts on Riya, Polar Rose, and Google’s plans to monitor ambient sounds). It should be an exciting event.

UPDATE: My presentation from the Workshop can be downloaded here (1.9 MB PDF).

UPDATE 2: An article version of my talk has been published in a special issue of the European Audiovisual Observatory’s journal, Iris: “Searching for Audiovisual Content

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