Data Are Belong Us

Us, we, you and me. Is our data our own? We own property and things and certain rights of intellect and expression, but do we entirely own our person?

TechDirt reports that the European courts have inched into this arena.

Is taking a picture of you allowed? No longer, under European rulings.

In the press release about the decision, the court explained its reasoning: “The Court reiterated that the concept of private life was a broad one which encompassed the right to identity. It stressed that a person’s image revealed his or her unique characteristics and constituted one of the chief attributes of his or her personality.

“The Court added that effective protection of the right to control one’s image presupposed, in the present circumstances, obtaining the consent of the person concerned when the picture was being taken and not just when it came to possible publication.”

There’s a swamp here. Of course there is. But there were centuries of struggles to work out merely the fundamentals of private rights such as fencing a pasture.

My albeit radical position is to hold on behalf of the individual. There is perpetually ample power in governments, organizations and firms in order to carry out their tasks, whether or not we increase our individual rights.

There’s much to think about that goes well beyond snapping pics. For instance, is it trespass when a signal is amplified into your head in order to steer you toward a purchase? Are sounds in your head under your ownership? Why isn’t the boundary at your brain perceived as private property too?

Oh, just presupposing, in the present circumstances…. I call it ‘Information Sovereignty’.

There are issues we need on the table. For example, as The Guardian points out, “Britain leads the world in the use of CCTV, with an estimated 4m cameras, and in building a national DNA database, with more than 7% of the population already logged”. UK’s House of Lords states that a “surveillance society” risks fundamental freedoms including the right to privacy.