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Restart Radio: Designing consumer rights and trust

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Trust is a fundamental part of any relationship, be it with humans or electronics. We place lots of trust and expectation on devices we bring into our homes – you might trust a toaster to make high quality toast. What happens to that trust when the device not only makes toast, but changes data on the internet?

This week Ugo is joined by Matthew Sheret from the design studio IF. Founded in 2015, IF works with companies to design products and services that empower users in a positive way, explore new models of user consent, and help to further mainstream the digital rights of the consumer.

IF’s projects often bridge the divide between digital and physical, and help companies to explore what is possible through their technology to further these aims.  Working with CHOICE (an Australian consumer rights group), IF designed a broadband monitor to help people understand their internet connection. As Matthew puts it, “people only care about the internet when it stops working,” so the monitor uses this framing of “what’s wrong with the internet” to enable people to understand and make choices about their network infrastructure and security, as well as to advocate for a better internet connection with their ISPs.

If design studio broadband monitor
Demonstrating the Broadband Monitor

Matthew also discusses some advocacy projects which are not yet physically realised.  The Transparency Mark, one of three different prototypes,  sought to enable people to understand more about the safety and history of devices they would potentially purchase by scanning a QR code.  While the technology needed to establish this type of database exists, this type of open data capture and sharing is not currently happening.

This type of data would, in Matthew’s view, help to tip many of the issues on consumers’ digital rights into the mainstream, however it will not be something that can be accomplished by one individual organisation. This is exactly in line with Restart’s work on open data on repair: the collective efforts of multiple organisations involved in community repair can drive better understanding of common faults and inspire consumers as well as manufacturers and policy makers. The next generation of consumer advocacy is one that will involve a larger distributed network both of organisations and consumers with the ability both to report on device repairability and early obsolescence due to poor software support by manufacturers.

Ugo and Matthew also discuss some recent news about the right to repair, including the US Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the refilling and reselling of Lexmark ink cartridges and on Apple making a particularly important device for iPhone calibration available to a few authorised repair shops on the quiet.

Photo courtesy of IF (via website and Twitter


2 responses

  1. Hi,

    In this podcast, it was mentioned that the device in question was released as a Raspberry Pi image or application… I’ve had a sniff around and I can’t find it. Any chance of a pointer? Ta!

    1. Hi Jon, you can find the version CHOICE published over at

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