Finding Opportunities When Everything Breaks

So collection of our data will be “inevitable”, “too big to keep private”, technically “unpreventable”.
How then can we “own”, “control” or “sell, lease, and/or license” our data? Legislation can give us “ownership” and the right to “sell, lease, and/or license” our data but that won’t stop the bad guys from stealing it.
If that’s good enough, why is legislation to “limit access to [our] data” a waste of time?
Just because the likes of Facebook, Google and the covert agencies seem presently to be getting away with it, via popular connivance and/or helplessness, every pendulum swings back, centreless distributed comunication is coming so no big portal/pipelines to milk, and attempts to collect our personal data, or even to “sell, lease, and/or license” it could well become criminal.

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Hey @fostertom ! Thanks for being the first commenter here!

The difference to me is enforcement and political will. As you’ve probably seen, it’s difficult to get people to care about protecting their privacy and so we’ve been pretty slow to respond to all the violations, and ineffective when we do. My hypothesis is that if people instead view it as money that’s being stolen from them, we’ll get stronger enforcement and higher prioritization by politicians and government. We tend to take financial theft more seriously than gray-area moral violations.

If that’s the case, then it would be faster and more effective to advocate for ownership rather than trying to close up the Pandora’s box that’s already been opened. There are just so many ways to leak data that we should be focused more on what is done with the data than whether someone possesses it. If a local police department has to pay you to look up your license plate info, they’ll do it only when necessary. As it stands now, they’re going to outfit every police car with an automatic plate detector. I don’t want to get into an arms race with authorities to try and thwart any face recognition or other surveillance mechanism while its legality is fought out in courts.

The owning and sale of data is actually something that technology is good at. Much easier than preventing data from getting into the wrong hands. We can detect if someone’s data exists in a data set, we can create smart contracts that automatically looks up the licensing of that data and alerts the owner if it’s not authorized. We can create a marketplace where the sale/lease/license/etc is handled automatically and simply delivers the seller compensation. You can detect privacy violations in the same way, but not as many people would use detection tools or care that they had been wronged.

I do hope that a decentralized internet comes to fruition and that the physics of data swing in favor of protection and control. But even in that world, society will benefit from having a way to pay for that data, so I’m hoping a marketplace would be a durable idea. If we all kept our digital data private and never shared anything, then lots of advancements couldn’t be made. I think ownership is a way to keep the progress going while compensating the data creators instead of the tool makers. On top of all that, I view it as a societal good.

It’s good to hear from the doubters and the critics so I appreciate you chiming in.

A forum is a great addition to your site. At least in its early days before it gets flooded with the usual reactive rubbish, it will make me for one really follow your blog, prob go back and look at earlier topics. So thanks.