The issue formerly known as privacy

I’m not really looking for privacy. I want an assurance that my data is not going to be abused.

Maybe privacy isn’t the right word. This is the issue formerly known as privacy.

Let’s call it justice, and human rights, and due process. What can we do that would allow people to have due process around their data?

Julia Angwin, investigative journalist & author of a recent book on privacy, from her keynote at the Strata 2014 NYC conference.

Angwin’s insight here, and her call to action, particularly resonated with me.

The full video, and more highlights, below:

I don’t know if you remember this, when Google was placing some code in ads that would actually allow them to circumvent the Apple Safari privacy settings and install their cookies. So they ended up paying a $22.5 million fine for that. And that is the largest fine I think anyone’s ever paid for privacy. And it’s worth reminding us, that was five hours worth of revenue for Google.

Does it matter that they have all your data? Staples gives different prices for their office supplies based on your zip code. They estimate how far you are from a competitor store. So in classical economical terms it makes sense for them to offer you a slightly cheaper price if you have the option of going to an OfficeMax. But in reality when you looked at the data across the nation, you also found that the people getting better prices were whiter and richer. And so we have this emerging world where you might make a choice about your data for a very legitimate reason, but find out you’re coming close to something that we used to call redlining.

I decided that, I’m not a Luddite, I’m not going to live in a shed, but living in the modern world, could I protect my privacy? So I took a lot of different steps. … In the end I wasn’t that successful. And I spent almost $2,500, for one year. It really was much more expensive than I thought.

Is privacy becoming a luxury good? Is that what we want for this world? It’s not even that. It’s like a crappy luxury good, like a fake BMW. Because I didn’t get out of the data brokers. I can’t protect my cell phone unless I don’t use it. I couldn’t get my friends to do this encryption. And I really didn’t have any assurances that my tools worked.

I want to feel the way I feel when I get in the car. I know it’s dangerous, but I also know it has to meet some minimum safety standards. And that if they break those, they’re going to be crying in front of Congress and paying me a lot of money in a lawsuit. That’s what I want with my data. I want to know that if it’s abused, I have due process, I have rights.

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