Metaphors and Models of WHAT IS “Personal Data” Implications for Policy plus Technology

From IIW

Session Topic: Metaphors and Models of “What is Personal Data”: Implications for Policy and Technology

Thursday 1H

Convener: Marc Davis

Notes-taker(s): Nora Draper

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered: Metaphors, digital self, personal/private space Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:

(note: version of slides on slide share @marcedavis)

  • Applications of humanistic theory to computer systems
  • Understanding metaphors that support understandings and definitions of personal data and personal clouds
  • [introductions around the room]

Marc’s Presentation:

  • Tremendous variety and overlap in interests in this space
  • Goal: new definitions and metaphors for understanding what is data, identity, privacy and personal data
  • Whether it is the cloud, store or vault, what is inside is personal data
  • First question: What is a person? Depends on our history of what we understand as a person. Right now we have protocols and norms about what it means to be a person (build around normative structures and behaviors). The ways people understand digital architecture are based on their experiences of embodiment and physical architecture.
  • George Lakoff: our forms of embodiment depend on the architectures we embody
  • Digital architecture is largely invisible. Very little standardization. Knowing what are the expectations of how to behave is difficult.
  • Privacy is about who has access into my behaviors.
  • In the digital landscape, which we have had limited opportunities to experience with. We gain a lot from understanding our physical metaphors that allow us to communicate with each other.
  • Another notion of personhood has been created in the law – legal personhood. Legal manifestation of ourselves with is related to how we think of ourselves and how we create value.
  • Web of the world. Three phases of the web: (1) web of pages; (2) web of people (5 years ago with Linkster and Friendstar); (3) web of the world (overlay of connections between people, places, times, actions and relations)
  • In the web of the world emerges the digital person – based on the generation of digital data
  • Personal data (EU) – information or data related in some why to an identifiable person
  • Metaphors:
    • Personal data is the new old of the internet and the currency of the digital world (Meglena Kuneva)
    • Interesting metaphors because it suggests data has value – because does it need to be refined, is it an asset, is it property
    • No answer to “what is personal data” that anyone has access to
    • If you say data in currency – your data is your back statement – money is data (symbolic)
    • Documents and data has value – more holistically
    • Whole set of existing metaphors for brokerage and trading that people understand (not necessarily applicable on a one-for-one basis, but a starting point for understanding personal data)
  • Three notions of me: physical, legal and digital

Dominant Metaphors:

  • Digital self: my personal data is me: what rights apply if data is me? Human rights that are inalienable
  • Digital property: my personal data is mine: ownership rights in data ( and the Ownership Agreement) – challenge: data doesn’t have only one owner (subject and producer) – essential in rethinking
  • Digital Speech – my personal data is by me – this is about authorship – data as a speech act

Other Metaphors:

  • Data is about me (utterances by others)
  • Data is to me (information sent “to” me)
  • Data is from me (information send “by” me)
  • Data is for me

Just a few prepositions give you a string of metaphors that attach to personal data – helpful frame for analyzing the approaches to personal data.

If it’s a human rights, there are things you can’t negotiate away through contracts. If it is ownership, it is not clear who has ownership.

Always need to think of who are the parties. The assumptions may not be the same in all contexts.

When we talks about groups – who has ownership in groups?

What kind of space is digital space?

  • What space do digital persons live in
    • Private physical spaces
    • Public physical spaces (domains – metaphors that is transferred to the web)
    • These metaphors don’t necessarily transfer that well to the digital act – because data in the cloud is not treated as a personal space
    • In western democratic societies – the public square is really important
    • In the web: where is your home and where is your public space and where is your private space?
    • Other spaces: work space and prison space?
  • Do I live in a personal space, work space, corporate space (e.g. email stored in corporate spaces)
  • Redefining ideas of personal space in the digital space
  • Panopticon: redefining notions on privacy in digital space, corporate space/prison space
  • In digital space: we don’t have public or private spaces anymore

Political Economy in which people live in: we live in digital feudalism because we don’t own our name, property, labor, etc.

Digital enlightenment: human rights, property rights, free speech

Forming new types of societies through the new types of digital metaphors that we are inventing

Reference: The Online Initiative Reference: Rik Van Der Kooi – To Track of Not to Track

In the 18th Century – can we experience change without the bloodshed and pain that we experienced in the revolutions that brought us to the enlightenment era?

Bloodless revolution:

  • The stick: EU data directive is about the fundamental right that citizens have to their data
  • The carrot: VRM (a better economic model for advertisers)
  • The right left alignment in the US around ECPA – Grover Norquist
  • At this point, the pain isn’t bad enough and the pleasure is too good (it’s not 1984, it’s Brave New World)
  • Anonymity is dead – so you need to have a way to claim ownership