From Alexa to Siri and the GDPR: The Gendering of Virtual Personal Assistants and the Role of EU Data Protection Law

26 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2018

See all articles by Nora Ni Loideain

Nora Ni Loideain

University of London - Institute of Advanced Legal Studies; Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge; Faculty of Humanities

Rachel Adams

Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute for Advanced Legal Studies; Research Use and Impact Assessment, Human Sciences Research Council

Date Written: November 9, 2018

Abstract

With female names, voices and characters, artificially intelligent Virtual Personal Assistants such as Siri, Alexa and Cortana, appear to be decisively gendered female. Through an exploration of the various facets of gendering at play in the design of Siri, Alexa and Cortana, we argue that this can be understood as posing a societal harm, insofar as they reproduce normative assumptions about the role of women as submissive and secondary to men. As a potential solution to this problem, this article then turns to explore the scope and potential of data protection law. In particular, we examine the role of data privacy impact assessments that highlight the need to go beyond the data privacy paradigm.

Keywords: AI; Data Protection Impact Assessments; Discrimination; EU Data Protection Law; Fundamental Rights; GDPR; VPAs

Suggested Citation

Ni Loideain, Nora and Adams, Rachel, From Alexa to Siri and the GDPR: The Gendering of Virtual Personal Assistants and the Role of EU Data Protection Law (November 9, 2018). King's College London Dickson Poon School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3281807 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3281807

Nora Ni Loideain (Contact Author)

University of London - Institute of Advanced Legal Studies ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://ials.sas.ac.uk/about/about-us/people/nóra-ni-loideain

Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/people/profile/nora-ni-loideain

Faculty of Humanities ( email )

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South Africa

Rachel Adams

Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute for Advanced Legal Studies ( email )

Charles Clore House
17 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5DR
United Kingdom

Research Use and Impact Assessment, Human Sciences Research Council ( email )

Private Bag X41
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South Africa

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