Home Forums Privacy Issues Who Owns The Data?

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    • #3647

      “At present, people are happy to give away their most valuable asset—their personal data—in exchange for free email services and funny cat videos. It’s a bit like African and Native American tribes who unwittingly sold entire countries to European imperialists in exchange for colorful beads and cheap trinkets.” – Yuval Noah Harari

      If only it were so straightforward, it would be easier to instinctively grasp at scale. Accelerated by the global pandemic, we are witnessing the next phase of this phenomenon: A growing ecosystem of middlemen who collect personal data from captive communities and pay data aggregators to take it and sell it to advertisers, or governments. These publicly funded efforts are vehemently defended by calls to authority, urgency and rhetoric.

      But when school boards adopt privacy-invasive tools and force children to use them, who, has the moral authority to justify these actions?

      When the attention of students is concentrated, harvested and funneled into the databanks of VC-funded edtech, how is the generational impact of privacy abuses calculated?

      When motivated administrators across North America claim not only authority, but ownership of the data historically belonging to families, then leverage public funds to aggressively protect the corporate interests behind data abuses… how are all the bottom feeders, enablers, enforcers and administrators to be held accountable?

      In his book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century Harari asks: “who owns the data”, but I wonder, in a clear vacuum of accountability, ethical business conduct and privacy enforcement, who cares?

    • #3657

      These are excellent questions, but we’ve let the genie out of the bottle and have lost control of the corporations that are profiting from our data. It doesn’t seem like governments will ever have the ability to reel it all back in.

      To boot, individuals don’t value their privacy or data, likely because it is largely intangible. How can attitudes be changed when an abundance of evidence pointing to the risks has no influence? Is it possible at this stage in the game to abandon the use of online tools that exploit our data but have become essential in our day to day lives (i.e. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)?


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