I admit to a certain amount of frustration on the subject of privacy lately. It seems, in all aspects of my life, both personal and professional, the new data privacy regulations that the EU rolls out May 25th are a theme in every discussion.
Sebastian, first of all, thank you for your detailed write up on this issue. I think much of your roadmap is worthwhile, and of great interest.
I cannot, however, say that I am convinced by your contentions regarding the effect of GDPR and indieweb sites. In particular, I think your definitions are excessively broad, and you elide much information from both the Regulation itself and the Recitals.
I think I fall somewhere in the middle of the two and see some of the moral and ethical pieces which are more important from a people perspective. I’m not as concerned about the law portion of it for a large variety of reasons. It’s most interesting to me to see the divide between how those in the EU and particularly Germany view the issue and those in the United States which may be looking at regulations in the coming years, particularly after the recent Facebook debacle.
As I think of these, I’m reminded about some of the cultural differences between Europe and the United States which Jeff Jarvis has expounded upon over the past several years. Europeans are generally more leery of corporations and trust government a bit more while in America it’s the opposite.
I’m saddened that a blog post linking to another blog post might need to include a disclaimer even if some of it is in jest. A part of me thinks we’re headed down a path of permission based interactions. Both online and offline. If that happens during my lifetime I’ll exit this experiment called the USA, to places where human beings are still human beings.
Fantastic photo, by the way!
There’s so much to think about and process here, that I’ll have to re-read and think more specifically about all the details. I hope to come back to this later to mark it up and annotate it further.
I’ve read relatively deeply about a variety of privacy issues as well as the weaponization of data and its improper use by governments and businesses to unduly influence people. For those who are unaware of this movement over the recent past, I would highly recommend Cathy O’Neil’s text Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, which provides an excellent overview with a variety of examples about how the misuse of data can be devastating not just to individuals who are broadly unaware of it, but entire segments of society.
There is a lot of publicly available data we reveal via social media and much of it one might flippantly consider “data exhaust” which has little, if any inherent value by itself. Unfortunately when used in aggregate, it can reveal striking things about us which we may either not be aware of ourselves or which we wouldn’t want to be openly known.
My brief thought here is that much like the transition from the use of smaller arms and handguns, which can kill people in relatively small numbers, to weapons like machine guns on up to nuclear weapons, which have the ability to quickly murder hundreds to millions at a time, we will have to modify some of our social norms the way we’ve modified our “war” norms over the past century. We’ll need to modify our personal social contracts so that people can still interact with each other on a direct basis without fear of larger corporations, governments, or institutions aggregating our data, processing it, and then using it against us in ways which unduly benefit them and tremendously disadvantage us as individuals, groups, or even at the level of entire societies.
In my mind, we need to protect the social glue that holds society together and improves our lives while not allowing the mass destruction of the fabric of society by large groups based on their ability to aggregate, process, and use our own data against us.
Thank you Sebastian for kicking off a broader conversation!
Disclaimer: I’m aware that in posting this to my own site that it will trigger a tacit webmention which will ping Sebastian Greger’s website. I give him permission to display any and all data he chooses from the originating web page in perpetuity, or until such time as I send a webmention either modifying or deleting the content of the originating page. I say this all with some jest, while I am really relying on the past twenty years of general social norms built up on the internet and in general society as well as the current practices of the IndieWeb movement to govern what he does with this content.