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[ontolog-forum] Is Big Data intrinsically an invasion of privacy?

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: John McClure <jmcclure@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 15 Jan 2014 11:42:44 -0800
Message-id: <52D6E4B4.6070106@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Not wishing to step on anyone's toes, but I'm wondering if the sale lease or transfer of digital traffic is fundamentally an invasion of privacy? This question somewhat begs the destruction of the entire Data Purveyor industry that has grown to such gigantic proportions the last several years, so I ask it rather gingerly.

Trying to put my finger on the defining characteristic of today's practices leads me to two conclusions about what is quite different from the world I knew in my youth. First, one < cannot opt-in > to such commercial databases. Second, for all practical purposes there is < no substitutability > of other goods for electronic communications.

So what is "personal data" anyway? Common sense indicates to me that it is all information that < I deem > is personal. I deem my weight, for instance, is personal information., private to me. So should < I choose > not to answer a given question when I know its answer, ipso facto I am deeming it "none of your damn business". It seems with few exceptions -- such as one's legal name -- can others deem that certain factoids are not subject to < my designation > of its privacy. Otherwise, dear ontologists, what does "privacy" actually mean?

Surely there's a classically ontological answer to this most basic question.

Secondly is the matter of economic substitution of goods, which may be better addressed elsewhere. FWIW, common sense indicates to me that digital communications are like water; it is ineluctable to meaningful participation in Western societies. If one thinks it's alright to privatize water resources, then it would be consistent to think it's okay to privatize digital traffic (and I am including here, for purposes of scope, even Apache log files). Digital traffic comprising both metadata and content data, digital traffic comprising both that sourced directly from persons and that sourced from any and all devices used by persons.

Anyway I conclude that digital traffic < in its totality > cannot be allowed to be privatized goods which can be sold leased or transferred by private entities to others without causing significant disproportionate harm to societies. The oft-cited trade-off benefits of incidental and better-targeted advertising is simply trivial in the larger context of healthy public discourse and interaction.

Reference: http://business.financialpost.com/2014/01/15/google-inc-privacy-health-canada/?__lsa=9b09-2c5f

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