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Archive for May 2012

I control my data therefor I am

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Uncertainty. Uncertainty about the existing symbolic order, norms and values and which way out to choose. In ‘Life as a construction box’, Swierstra[1] et al. begin their publication with the conception of ‘way out’ which, in my ayes is a bit heavy (my connotation of ‘way out’ has to do with escape). But then, the publication is a bout the most relevant, current and rather important issues of our days. Issues like privacy, man and machine, ambient and pervasive technology, health and being unhealthy and, as would like to put it, the makebility of reality, an as fundamental as rather intangible confusion trying to surface through solid ethical questions and controversies. Dutch philosopher Peter Paul Verbeek[see Swiestra] questions whether people have the possibility to withdraw themselves from ambient and pervasive technology. And what about our log-time disputed basic right of privacy?

Why would privacy be important? Mooradian[2] quotes Rachel who writes that is important because privacy enables man to selectively enclose information and privacy would engage us to certain desired social behavior. And, privacy is necessary to create and manage certain relationships. Without such control mechanisms, says Rachel, diversity in relationships will disappear. Or better, fade away. Mooradian is less pessimistic. According to him, there is a difference between real friends and those as referred to in social media. And further more says Mooradian; we adjust our behavior according to the situation (or context, I presume).
Then have we passed the station of privacy? Are we beyond privacy? Not according to Mooradian. In our times of social media, one may decide for himself what and how much one speaks (tells) but one cannot control what other speak of him. What apparently seems to be a process of democratization – digital surveillance as Mooradian calls it – can also be interpreted as a panopticum resembling Orwell’s Big Brother spheres.
In her paper about Facebook, Danah Boyd[3] says that information is not private – as in privately owned data – because information is limited and controlled which turns the issue of privacy into the rather difficult dungeons in terms of social convergence. For who limits and controls our data?

Could we, in the context of last months Month of Philosophy in The Netherlands recapitulate that I control my data therefor I am?

[1]  Swiestra, T. e. a. (2009). Leven als bouwpakket, Ethisch verkennen van een nieuwe technologische golf (1st ed.). Den Haag: Rathenau Instituut.

[2] Mooradian, Norman, The importance of privacy revisited, Ethis Inf Technol, Springer Science+Business Media BV, 2009

[3] Boyd, Danah, Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck, Convergence, Berkely 2088

Written by Kees Winkel

May 11, 2012 at 16:52

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