The Digital Person: a symposium


The use of personal data is of enormous global concern.  The Digital Person symposium is an annual event organised by the HAT Community Foundation and Wolfson College Cambridge that discusses personal data from three perspectives: (1) digital personhood, law, freedom and democracy (2) value, economics and markets and (3) data analytics, data science and technology.  Aside from creating a unique environment for a robust discussion that is relevant and important, the symposium will also produce an annual white paper on the state of the digital person in a connected and digital society. Symposium participants are drawn from industry captains, policy makers, government representatives, combined with thought leaders from the sciences, humanities and social sciences with discussions relating to law, computer science, history, sociology, entrepreneurship, business, economics  and the global society. The symposium is chaired by 3 eminent professors in the field, Professors John Naughton, Jon Crowcroft and Irene Ng. This unique cross-disciplinary symposium is organised jointly by Wolfson College Cambridge and the HAT Community Foundation.


Wolfson College Cambridge, Barton Road, Cambridge CB3 9BB, UK

31 May 2018, Lee Hall, Wolfson College Cambridge
9am for 930am start, 530pm end
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‘Personal data’ is the usual European term, but in the US it is often known as ‘personal information’ or ‘personally identifiable information’ (p.7, Van Kleek and O’Hara,). Personal data/information is defined as ‘any information/data relating to an identified or identifiable natural person’ Bonneau and Preibusch (2010). This isn’t just email, addresses or credit card information but photographs, social media posts, documents – almost everything on the Internet that could be linked to an individual. ICO has an entire document dedicated to what is personal data for the purpose of the data protection act 1988 and its successor, the General Data Protection Regulation that firms would need to comply by May 2018.

Personal data is currently one of the most talked about subjects in both academia and practice when discussing the digital economy and the Internet. Most conversations surround privacy and security. However, there are many facets of personal data that need more robust discussion, many of which interact with one another. The Wolfson-HAT Annual Symposium on the Digital Person serves to raise awareness on this topic and discuss issues relating to the research, practice and use of digital persons in the Internet Economy. The symposium lasts a full day, beginning at 930 and is divided into 4 segments. The Chair of each segment chooses how the segment would be conducted. This could be through 10-minute provocations and then discussions, or through more formal speeches and Q&As.

The 2018 Symposium will follow a different format with Table seating for speakers and Audience seating for observers. Table seating is by invitation only and is grouped by context (e.g. Country, industry etc.)

Audience seating is available for public booking. Register for a seat here.

Segment 1: Personal data: digital personhood, freedom and democracy

This segment would discuss the following: 

  • expression of digital identity, curating personal, digital narratives and memories,
  • proxies of digital self, digital and physical world connections,
  • online identities and understanding how individuals and society interact digitally
  • privacy, security, access rights, regulation,
  • law, democracy and rights

This segment is chaired by Professor John Naughton, FRSA and would be from 930am - 11am

Segment 2 : Personal data: Value, Economics and Markets

This segment would discuss the following:

  • personal data as an asset class
  • economic value chains of personal data
  • economic and business models of personal data
  • exchange mechanisms, transactions,
  • monetization, dataification, digitization

This segment is chaired by Professor Irene Ng and would be from 1115am - 115pm

Segment 3: Personal data:  Data Analytics, Data Science and Technology

This segment would discuss the following:

  • personal data creation
  • schemas, analytics, private analytics
  • machine learning algorithms, AI
  • security, privacy
  • technology and IoT 

This segment is chaired by Professor Jon Crowcroft, FRS and would be from 215pm - 4pm

Segment 4: open discussion 430pm - 530pm

This segment would be an open discussion on issues raised during the day


Photo Gallery of the Wolfson-HAT Annual  Symposium on the Digital Person 2017 (Please note that 2018 will follow a different format)