Law in the Internet Society

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EungyungEileenChoiSecondEssay 4 - 11 Jan 2020 - Main.EbenMoglen
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The Unresolvable Dilemma of Christmas Gifting

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What can I do?

As much as I admire my mom, I'm a person with less determination. Also, times have changed. Someday, my daughter will inevitably be exposed to the internet world no matter how hard I try. I would not want her to enter this world unaware of its consequences and without means to protect herself against them. So, here's what I'm going to do. First, I will buy another present that will be as much appreciated as a Fitbit by her for this Christmas. It might seem like a difficult task, but if you truly love your child and observe her closely, it should be possible. Second, I will warn her and try to keep her aware of the privacy concerns. Third, when the time comes for her to own a mobile device, I'll teach her some tricks I learned in this class to protect her privacy such as using a VPN or encryption software. Lastly, as a lawyer, I will advocate for a regulation that deems behavior data collection as unacceptable and unconsentable. However, since the current data regulation is so centered around the consent of a user, this may take a long time. In the meanwhile, I believe users should at least be given the option to track their steps and sleeping habits and maybe share them with family and close friends for motivation without being forced to surrender their data to the developers or anyone else.


Yes, I think this is an overwhelming problem. I only happened to duck it by not having any children. I deeply appreciate the quandary. By definition, because I am not a parent, society uniformly agrees that I am not competent to discuss parenting questions. But there are a couple of ideas that I think might help you to make your essay even better than it is now.

First, I think you might want to ask what would be a good form of relationship to computers for your daughter to have. Those of us who have been worrying about this problem for most of our lifetimes—long before anyone else knew the problem could exist—became aware of the problem as youngsters precisely because we had strong and—to our minds—beautiful relations with computers that we were afraid would be corrupted so that others couldn't be free. You might, for example, take a look at Sherry Turkle's first masterpiece of a book, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, which is more brilliantly about that than anything else written by the human race so far.

Second, I think you might ask about how to teach your daughter not aversively, but positively. At eight it becomes possible to talk to a child about values, about why we believe things and why our beliefs are important to us. That our beliefs involve our relations with things is one of the easiest ways in to that conversation: why we do what we do with the things in our lives is a good topic of sporadic conversation. That our tech also shows or conflicts with our values was what your mother meant about education and distractions, after all, in the realm of how to use television.

Fear of loss of privacy is an inevitable, eventually primary reason for caring about privacy. In a few years, as she goes through the process of acquiring a self—that is, an independent relation to society—your daughter will read some science fiction, or maybe 1984, and she will acquire that fear, without the demon hacker kidnapper you are sorry to have summoned up. But by the time she gets there, and needs also an SSH proxy and indeed a FreedomBox of her own, she can have built for herself a relationship to computing, and a system of values that is related to her computing, that will tell her exactly why her privacy and her political freedom are connected, and why she cares. She would hardly be the only 15-year-old free software zealot I've ever met.

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Revision 4r4 - 11 Jan 2020 - 14:29:14 - EbenMoglen
Revision 3r3 - 06 Dec 2019 - 17:12:38 - EungyungEileenChoi
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