Should Our Data Have Rights? (feat. Origin of Everything)
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Should Our Data Have Rights? (feat. Origin of Everything)

August 27, 2019

– If you’re in America,
just standing on our soil, you as a person have privacy rights protected by the Constitution. The stuff you do online, however, well, that’s a whole different story. – New trouble for Facebook this morning. – The tech giant failed
to protect the data of millions of users for being
used for political purposes. – With a political data
firm, Cambridge Analytica. – Obtained the personal information of more than 50 million users
without their permission. – They then combine it
with your voting history, what you buy, where you shop,
and even what you watch on TV. – This morning, the chief
executive from that company caught on camera apparently admitting they target candidates with dirty tricks. – With that, they say they can predict the personality of every single
adult in the United States. (eerie music) – Everything you do online creates data, when you upload a selfie, when you shop, or even when you have a
conversation with your cutie, it’s all recorded, and even though it probably feels like
your data, it’s really not. That’s because, in current law, data is like your shoes or house plant, it’s an object, a thing, you can own it, you can sell it to companies for money, and you can get in trouble if you steal it from someone else, but beyond
that, it’s just a house plant. The history on how our country
views data is kind of murky, so I called my friend Danielle from the Origin of Everything
to clear a few things up. – The Constitution does
actually have a lot to say about property rights and even
intellectual property rights. For example, in section
8 of the Constitution, they basically created
the legal framework for patent law, copyright
law, and trademark law by giving Americans exclusive right to their creative output, and that’s what the Capitol are, which
means they meant it. So basically make a thing, from
an invention to a painting, it’s yours, it’s your
property and you own it. And they add it to this
idea in the Amendments, the final sentence of the
Fifth Amendment basically says that the government can’t take someone’s property away
without paying them. So, right from the start,
the framers were like “Of course you can own stuff,
that’s protected by law,” they just didn’t know
your stuff would one day be selfies with a flower crown filter. – We’re learning more
about reports that data was unknowingly harvested
from millions of Americans. – All of the recent news
surrounding Facebook is a great reminder that in
America, our data is an object, when we log on, we are giving it to them, sort of like how you might
give someone a bottle of wine when you show up at
their house for dinner, there is no real legal
structure in this country around how they can use it
once you give it to them. To start off, I want to talk about a phrase you’ve been using called surveillance capitalism, can
you tell us what that means? – Surveillance capitalism
is the business model of spying on us, so
there are many companies that offer us free services in exchange for the ability to spy on us
and monetize the information. All of us are being
spied on, every one of us who uses a computer, uses a
phone, we’re all being spied on, computers naturally produce information about what they’re doing, about
our interactions with them, and the information is
collected and bought and sold by the companies who are managing those products and services,
so the obvious ones are Facebook and Google,
it’s also your cell phone company and your bank and
your credit card company and everybody else that
you interaction with. – People are different, it says so right in our Bill of Rights, I as a
person have certain freedoms, I have the freedom to believe what I want, the freedom to say what I want, the freedom to say no when a soldier wants to spend the night at my house, certain freedoms are more
relevant today than others. Okay, everything we’ve just
talked about, it sounds like it should be against the law,
so how do these companies get away with selling our information? – So today, social media
companies do all sorts of legal maneuvering so they can play nice with content ownership
laws, for example, Instagram is pretty upfront that
they do not claim ownership over your pictures or videos,
you still own them yourself, but when you post them on their service, they do say that you’re
giving them permission to use them however they
want, or as they put it, and take a deep breath,
because this is a long one: You hereby grant Instagram a
non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable,
worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works
of your content consistent with your privacy and
application settings. (sighs) So basically to use
your houseplant example, they don’t own your
plant, but once you put it in their house, they can
replant it in a new pot, split it into fifty plants,
spray paint it purple, or do anything else
because hey, you may own it but you’ve given away any
rights to how it’s used. – This probably sounds obvious,
but it’s an important point, in the eyes of the law, there’s
a fundamental difference between me as a person
and the objects I own. But let’s forget the policy for a minute. What does your data feel like to you? Remember, we’re talking
about your pictures, your videos, your
conversations with friends, I’m guessing these things feel like you, an extension of yourself, so is it time for a Bill of Rights
for our digital selves? – Our laws were written
using an old idea of privacy. Today, our private
stuff is somewhere else, like my most private secrets might be in my Gmail, stored on Google servers. – It may sound far-fetched to be giving a bunch of ones and zeros the same rights as flesh and blood humans,
but in many places, something similar to this
is already happening. In 2011, when Austrian
law student Max Schrems asked Facebook to release
his personal data, he started the movement
that’s still growing today. – We have the basic problem that we have the mass surveillance scandal and we didn’t really have
any consequences in Europe, there were angry letters by politicians but nothing really happened. – Max Schrems is an Austrian attorney who has been suing Facebook over the years trying to get his data, and
that has been going through the European courts and
he was very successful in ways Americans have not been in finding out what
Facebook knew about him, and that’s caused Facebook
to change practices, now you can go online
on Facebook’s website and download the data
that Facebook has on you. – So is there anywhere outside of America where they’ve started to
regulate surveillance capitalism? – GDPR is a European law that stands for the General Data Protection Regulation, and it’s a comprehensive privacy law out of the European Union that affects pretty much all aspects
of computers and data. – New rules implemented today
in Europe designed to protect your privacy are affecting
big tech companies here. – The GDPR are tough
new rules all companies operating in the European
Union must obtain users’ consent to use or sell
any personal information. – The GDPR just came into
force about a month ago, and we haven’t yet seen
enforcement actions so what it really means
is still to be seen because it will depend on how the European prosecutors and European courts enforce the different provisions. – I gotta be honest, I
don’t know if a lot of people care that their
information is being sold. Can you tell us why this is so important? – Privacy is our ability
to present ourselves to the world as we see
fit, it’s our ability to craft how we are seen by others, and when that privacy is invaded, when your cell phone company
can track your location, down to the meter and
knows where you live, where you work, where you
sleep, who you sleep with, that information is lost to
you, you lost control of it. – So what do you think? Should companies be able to do whatever they want with our personal information? Should we stop thinking about data like it’s an old pair of shoes? Should be maybe start treating
it like we treat each other, and how would the
country change if we did? Let us know. Hey everybody, this is Toussaint Morrison with America from Scratch. In our next episode, we’re
gonna ask the question, should we have mandatory voting? Click on the link in the description, and send us a video with
your thoughts on that, and do not forget to
subscribe, thanks for watching. This program is made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. More people need to see this channel. These ideas of remaking America from Scratch is very intriguing and very relevant to today, we need to "update" our terms of service with the constitution and structure of government. Amazing video, your structure is very professional and well developed for an underviewed channel. I am hoping to see this channel grow massively beyond its current size. Thanks for your work.

  2. Different kinds of data feel different to me. When I'm on Tumblr and I post a funny picture I made, I implicitly feel like I'm giving the world permission to do what they want with the picture – share it, put filters over it, create memes with it, anything.

    When I post a comment on something, or post something more personal, those are my words and I don't want anyone to modify them, but I feel okay allowing anyone to share them to their own blogs. If someone wants to comment on them, fair enough, but I want to have the original comment be still linked to my blog.

    And those two things, memes and personal pictures, shitposts and heartfelt comments,
    I have different levels of comfort with regards to how people can use them.
    And yet I post them in the same blog, in the same format.

    And of course, this isn't a binary, there's a range of things I could be comfortable or uncomfortable with people doing with my stuff depending on each individual post. I'm comfortable with Google being able to identify me in pictures cause it's convenient to me. I'm not comfortable with that data being public. I'm comfortable with Facebook knowing what foods I like automatically, and I'm also comfortable with my parents learning that through Facebook; however, I'm comfortable with Facebook knowing what Youtube channels I like to watch but I'm not always comfortable with my parents learning that through Facebook.

    The GDPR is a very good step forward. These kinds of things should definitely be regulated. There's still some issues to be worked through but I think there is broad consensus that your data should be yours. If you want to allow people to use it, then sure, that's definitely something that you should be able to do (I would definitely be willing to be paid for providing anonymous data about myself to a company that wants to sell stuff, for instance) – but it should be each person's data and it should be up to each of us to decide who we want to share it with.

    That being said, I personally don't think that anyone should have the right to say "I don't want to allow this one particular person to retweet this", which is where things start getting messy and we should have more discussions about that.

  3. I'd be interested to see how business models would change if we were to truly own our data. Would people sell their data on markets, like some intellectual blood donation? Would Facebook shift to claim that they are providing a service by harvesting your data for you so effectively?

    Bear in mind, most of the value in your data isn't your content, it's the behavioural data that is collected and used to train AI's and optimize consumption. Data, that sufficiently anonymized, could be incredibly beneficial for society if we were to use it for altruistic purposes (instead of commercial)

    Regardless, I think we overvalue our privacy. Think of the things we typically associate with being private: financial information, sexuality, politics. Taboos that stay unexamined because we're allowed to keep them secret. What if your browsing history was public? Would you not suddenly have to be the person that you present yourself as?

  4. Doesn't GDPR only pertain to Europeans who live in Europe, and not to others in Europe or Europeans abroad?

  5. I really enjoyed this video as it gave me a few different ways to think about what my data means to me. Personally, I believe we should have the ability to 'anonymize' our data, where all ties between us and the data are broken. This will allow the companies to keep the data for machine learning purposes, and at the same time protect our privacy.

  6. If people would read the EULA, this wouldn't be an issue. You signed a contract; deal with it. End of discussion.

  7. Mandatory voting is a silly proposition. Just as the government can't silence your speech, the government also can't make you speak. Simple as that.

  8. They shouldn't be selling our data, nor spying through our gadgets. I.E. PC, Echo Dot, TV's, Samsung Electronics, and other gadgets. It's not right. 😐

  9. One issue that you didn't mention is security concerns, like having your identity stolen or someone hacking your social media accounts. If the companies that handle your data don't have good policies, that can make you more vulnerable.

    The author Andy Weir talks about his experience of getting his accounts hacked because of bad company policies:

  10. My thoughts on this are, in general, that I have no issue with data that I have posted publicly being sold in lieu of me having to pay for various internet services. Private data (high accuracy location data, full name, home address, financial data, etc.) however, shouldn't be sold without permission and being anonymized first.

  11. I can't believe I lost Facebook! Why? I forgot my password, and I've made a grand endeavour to reset my password that can be privately memorable.

  12. YES! The United States of America should have something like GPDR that the members of European Union enacted which California followed with the Consumer Privacy Act that'll come into effect in 2020.

  13. From a certain view data itself is neutral. However it is the application and use of data that has a large potential to be dangerous. There is a reason doctors can not openly disclose medical information on their patients without permission. In a capitalist society, data will not care for the betterment of humans. It will be used to increase capital; this will be helpful in some regard in finding things people may want to buy, but it will also make them active targets for adjusting their political positions and using things that the person may like to make sure the company is in the most positive view possible regardless of what the company is really doing.

  14. 4:28 – So if you go to school, work, someone's house, etc. and you hang your coat in the closet or park your car in the garage, etc. they are allowed to destroy your stuff or sell it or whatever? 🤨 Either the analogy is flawed, or the law is (I'm leaning towards the law being wrong and needing to be updated ¬_¬).

  15. Yes, I want my data protected. It's not just a matter of being able to present a dignified face to the world, it's a matter of security. I am grateful to those who create and maintain the social networking services that we use, but that doesn't mean they get to treat me however they want. Ideally, laws exist to protect us and to ensure basic human decency. If some sack of human garbage in a suit somewhere is taking advantage of legal ambiguity or loopholes to profit off of gross invasions of privacy, potentially allowing cybercriminals to rob me in the process, I want the situation rectified as soon as possible.

    Oh, and incidentally, I'm a fairly open guy. Some even say too much. I have no problem telling you how I spend my time or who I spend it with. Whatever you want to know, ask me, and I'll almost certainly be willing to tell you, it does not trouble me. Hopes and dreams? Philosophical leanings? Ideologies? Ambitions? Skills? Insecurities? Favourite colour? Hobbies? Dietary and exercise habits? Porn preferences? People I like? People I don't like? Anything you want, I really don't mind. What I do mind, what I mind very much, is the control over what is disclosed being taken from me. Just because I voluntarily share 90% of myself with the world doesn't mean I am willing to let someone else share 100%. It should be my choice, and no one else's, ever, with the sole exception of emergencies in which I am either dead or in such a state that I am not fit to make decisions. As long as I do my best to be a law-abiding citizen and a decent human being, I think I deserve that right, and so do the rest of you.

  16. We must update our laws because before we know it, and it's already happening, companies can and will take advantage of us.

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