Fight for your Right to Privacy!
The song, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right to Party,“ released by the Beastie Boys in 1986, was a parody on other rockstar versions of partying, like “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room,“ by Brownsville Station. Michael Diamond commented, “(People love it, but) the one sad thing about our song is that most people didn’t understood that we were making fun of them!“ It would have required a great deal of self-consciousness that many people simply did not possess 30 years ago and nowadays neither.
For self-consciousness, you have to know who you are and who you are not. An issue raging in the public sphere is ironically that of privacy. Europeans are well aware of the need for protecting the private sphere, however among Americans I perceive a sometimes blind trust in the de-centralized form of US-government, with people saying “I have nothing to hide and I trust my nation.“ Even if that were true, if the FBI, CIA and other government institutions were reliable, there are many other online predators that would love to get their claws in your cyberdata and exploit your weaknesses.
Try googling anything about anything and you will see ads beginning to pop up supposing your interest in that product or service. These companies have us believe they are doing us a service by proposing these items. In reality, pop-ups are based on algorithms taken from your internet activity, meaning that something or someone is observing what you do. This may seem harmless when it involves buying a new sofa or planning an outing to a waterpark, but imagine if it also included your voting records, all your purchasing history, and your social security number.
When a society loses its sense of the necessity for personal privacy, it begins to lose its own identity. Privacy is the framework for understanding what and who one is not, often very helpful for protecting what and who one is. When a group neglects the right to assert what and who it is not, it begins to accept anything and everything anyone tells it what and who it is. That is the beginning of the end of a social identity.
Light is appearing on the horizon of digital identity. The emergence of blockchain technology has provided the world with the possibility of secured digital privacy. Different from other open source distributed ledgers, blockchain technology users, like bitcoin, do not require identity information for the network layer in order to use the software. That means that there is no treasure chest with myriads of personal data stored on the blockchain. There is nearly no liability in this sense, which is consoling for the self-conscious citizen like me, as well as concerned risk managers. Corporations are realizing that online data is becoming an increasingly toxic asset.
People inherently possess the basic right to control their own data. It is part of their right of self-determination. This includes what, how, when and how much of their personal data they wish to share with anyone. Blockchain helps us to manage our identities and our interactions with the world. This a right truly worth fighting for. The fight doesn’t include warfare tactics and mud-slinging campaigns. It just means being savvy and consequential in decision-making about what data I allow in cyberspace and by what means. My recommendation: begin reading up on blockchain-based businesses and see what information you can begin transferring to these safer places. Fight for your right to privacy!