Video conferencing is now a practical application of technology that is increasingly central to our lives, particularly during times of isolation and lockdown. Our case study into video conferencing takes a strong technological perspective to explore how various technical decisions, based on different sets of values, impact a person’s safety and privacy. Using the Public Stack layers we see the conflicting considerations in for example a peer-to-peer configuration where we can have more control and options to address important values such as privacy, where a client-server configuration feature richness and ease of use might be easier to achieve, but control and privacy might suffer, especially if the server is managed by an organisation we cannot trust.
Considering Digital Identity in the context of the public stack, we see the subject represented in all layers, and firmly rooted in the foundation. Identity and its related concepts of ownership, authenticity, anonymity and privacy are a very integral part of the foundation on which systems and processes are designed. In the implementation of technology and services we see the need for a flexible and nuanced notion of identity, from the hardware layer all the way to the services and application layer where identity is not only a very profitable business case for social media platforms, but also a means of artistic expression for some. But at the top of the stack we, as citizens, currently have only the thinnest thread of control.