Savena Surana — co-founder of Identity 2.0 — is driving the conversation about the data we give away online.
Do you know what Google does with your data? If not, you’re in good company. But we’re on a mission to change that.
In 2018, my friend Arda Awais and I met for dinner and chatted about the ways our data was being collected and used online. We both worked for tech startups and were baffled by the lack of accessible information about how Google was using our information. Rather than complaining about it over some pasta, we decided to do something about it.
Digital privacy can be a dry subject, so it’s no wonder many people switch off from the issue. Arda and I knew that if we wanted to raise awareness about how data is used online, we needed to create an accessible and engaging way to learn about it. This is what inspired us to start Identity 2.0 — a creative studio working at the intersection of digital rights, identity and technology. Through Identity 2.0 we found a way to educate people on the data they give away online through interactive art exhibitions and workshops.
Data privacy through art — a novel concept
Our pilot exhibition launched in 2019 — a pop up at Soho House which explored the way we wanted our digital identity to be treated in the future. The exhibition displayed a collection of interactive, personalised and static pieces to provoke conversation about the data we give away online.
At first, we didn’t plan for it to go on for longer than that pilot, but we realised there was a need for accessible, fun, interactive spaces to talk about digital identity. We really enjoyed putting the work together, so we kept going!
Since then we’ve hosted three exhibitions, published zines, created workshops, spoken about our experiences and designed digital experiences for other people. We’ve had the pleasure of working with companies like Feminist Internet, Goethe Institute, Soho House and Airbnb, to name a few.
"We’re just two friends trying to make the world of tech more fun and engaging with a bit of a moral compass."
Where Future Leaders comes in
Arda and I applied to the Future Leaders programme after we agreed that 2022 was the year for us to figure out if we could be a business or not. So far, we’ve been running Identity 2.0 alongside our full time jobs because we’re so passionate about data protection. This programme has given us the space to consider what we need to run it as a business.
From financial experts to tech researchers, the breadth of support we’ve tapped into at TPXimpact has been amazing. I’ve also loved meeting fellow entrepreneurs. I’m not quite used to calling myself a co-founder or even calling Identity 2.0 my business, but the programme has really helped me become more confident and stretch my business acumen.
To anyone considering applying next year, I’d encourage you to — there’s nothing to lose!
What’s on the horizon for Identity 2.0?
As a creative studio working in the world of digital rights, we’re really keen to expand our learning and training offer.
Between the two of us, we have a lot of knowledge about the world of digital privacy, surveillance, dark design patterns and privacy policies. We want to help other companies — creatives, in particular — understand how to embed better digital practices into their organisations. And, because we are from creative backgrounds, we can make sure it’s pretty fun too. We hope to continue producing more creative work, from exhibitions to workshops.
Meet the mentor
Paul Clough is Data Science Lead at TPXimpact. His role includes supporting the delivery of data science solutions and services using statistical methods and AI. Paul is also a Professor of Search and Analytics in the Information School at the University of Sheffield and a member of the Ethics Committee Advisory Group for the Machine Intelligence Garage where he is helping advise AI startups around the responsible and ethical use of data and AI.
“We live in a changing world where the use of data, AI and digital technologies is more evident than ever before. The work that Savena is doing around helping people in the creative industries navigate digital rights, identity and technology is vital. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with Savena over the past couple of months and discussing her existing plans for the future of her business, identity 2.0,” said Paul.
"Savena is very aware of the impact that digital technology can have on people’s lives and is committed to making digital rights more accessible to the creative sector."Paul Clough
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