Law in the Internet Society

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AlexLawrencePaperTwo 5 - 15 Jan 2009 - Main.AlexLawrence
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What is the Price of our Privacy?

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 If it wanted to, Google could make Gmail a pay-to-use service at any time. But once Google has your personal information, you can't take it back or stop the company from using it in ways you never imagined when you 'freely' gave it away in exchange. With a few specialized exceptions, American law currently offers no rights to control how your personal information is used once it is collected. If you really want a marketplace where privacy can be commoditized fairly, you need to first set up a legal regime where sellers can control what they are offering to the same degree that buyers already can.

-- AndreiVoinigescu - 17 Dec 2008



I know I am quite late in responding to your point but you raise an interesting issue that I'd like to follow up on a little bit. As you said at the moment US law doesn't really offer many rights in terms of controlling your personal information once you've given it away. Indeed, giving away your personal information appears to be something of a pandora's box problem. Once opened, that's it. Moreover, we talked in class about how much personal information is already out there and how many people don't realize how much of their information is already out there and held by ISPs and other companies (think, for example, of Eben's anecdote about the guy who works for him who refuses to give away his SSN and Eben's point that google can probably simply deduce it from other information they already have). So my question is what do you think would happen if there was a way for people to find out and see how much of their personal information was already known and possessed by companies like Google?

So much of the controversy surrounding Phorm centers around the American obsession with privacy and the corresponding misconception that any of our actions on the internet are in fact private. So what do you think would happen if the American public could see just how much of their personal information was in the hands of companies such as Google. I don't know how this could be accomplished, but it seems to me that maybe the attitude towards behaviorally targeted advertising and behavior tracking would change if people realized how much they have already let out of the bag. I know this is a strange and pessimistic argument, but it just seems to me that part of the problem in this whole fight is that many people are laboring under a delusional theory of just how "private" their life is. So maybe the way to get more people to consent to behaviorally targeted advertising so that it can improve to the levels where it can make a profit while paying for the above mentioned infrastructure costs is to start a campaign educating the public about what they have already consented to in the past in terms of giving away personal information on the internet.

-- AlexLawrence - 15 Jan 2009


Revision 5r5 - 15 Jan 2009 - 19:01:27 - AlexLawrence
Revision 4r4 - 17 Dec 2008 - 05:02:51 - AndreiVoinigescu
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