The Self as Aggregation of Data

18 Apr

Thanks to James B. Rule and to several of my students who are looking into privacy policies in different ways, I’ve been thinking about privacy this week.

Here’s James’ article for The Huffington Post about the Obama Administration’s Framework for a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which frames in some of the problems with “The Framework,” and points to the kinds of questions we ought to be asking about who has the right to our personal data.

And then earlier this week, I came across this article published on 2/29/12 and written by Alexis Madrigal for The Atlantic. The article’s title gives you a sense of what it’s about: “I’m Being Followed:  How Google–and 104 Other Companies–Are Tracking Me on the Web.”  This article made me want to try the “Collusion” program offered by Mozilla to track just who is tracking me. (Anyone ever tried this?)

What price are we paying for convenience?  What price for access to “free” on-line content?  We have firewalls to protect us from hacking, (very few) pay walls to monetize our content, and a thin “name wall” (Madrigal’s term) between us and the data we provide about ourselves with every click we make.  Am I a man, or am I 00011100101010101010101101010101010100000000…?

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