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The Invisible Man in the Digital Age: From Anonymity to Invisibilty, A right to remain Unknown

Colloque / Citoyenneté

Le 3 janvier 2018

The CESICE and the MFO (Maison Française d'Oxford) are pleased to inform you of their forthcoming conference "The Invisible Man in the Digital Age: From Anonymity to Invisibilty, A right to remain Unknown", to take place on 2nd February 2018 from 9:00am to 4pm at the MFO in Oxford


Through the use of magical artifacts: from the Ring of Gyges mentioned by Plato in his Republic to H.G. Wells' Invisible Man; the desire to become invisible has been ever present in the minds of humankind. Whether it is used for good or evil, invisibility remains a myth that fails to pass the reality test. In the digital world, anonymity and real invisibility has had a lot of appeal since the very beginning of the Web 2.0. The development of enabling anonymous communication software (TOR), encryption (GnuPG) and artificial amnesia systems (Tails) partly enabled the dream of invisibility to come true. Yet, even though this new set of technologies is compellingly useful and beneficial for the protection against privacy invasion from States or malevolent private actors, risks of illegal uses of these new technologies may still exist. The Ring of Gyges epitomizes that invisibility can be a weapon whose ethical value is not inherently attached to it but depends on what it is being used for.
Is the move into the Big Data Era urging us to acknowledge a fundamental right to anonymity or invisibility? Contrariwise, are we only called to regulate the hazardous uses that might be made of this technology, if ever it becomes technically feasible? Furthermore, should we advocate the complete reframing of the notion of identity in the digital world, while arguing, in the wake of Levinas, that any person should be entitled to a digital visage, both identified with but also distinct from the physical face?
This scientific event aims at tackling these critical issues by showing both the continuity and persistence of the theme of invisibility. Importantly, speakers will endeavor to cast new light on the new identity-related problems posed by the emerging digital world. This investigation is particularly relevant today: even though digital liberties are gaining traction and progressively finding their way in the democratic pact, risks of serious misuses of new technologies are quite high and may have disastrous consequences. Above all, a good grasp of these issues is a prerequisite for the design of our future economy and its ability to generate wealth and employment whilst taking into account each individual’s identity and need to hide and to be left alone.


Dr François Viangalli, Associate Professor, UGA
Dr Claude Castelluccia, Research Fellow, INRIA
Dr Fabien Girard, Associate Professor, UGA, Associate Research Fellow, MFO

click here for the poster

click here for the programme

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Oxford Talk

Maison Française d'Oxford


Le 3 janvier 2018

Publié le 28 janvier 2021

Mis à jour le 28 janvier 2021