In world news, we have ACTA, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, alleged to target Counterfeit Trade, which is kind of funny when you consider that Big Data is now heading towards being a 50 billion Dollar Industry by 2017 (LinkedIn headline). So what does the big business actually want from our big data? Why are they so concerned with the ability to manage the who, what, where, and how of our use of it?
Here's real information
According to ACTA - a global treaty - could allow corporations to censor the Internet. Negotiated in secret by a small number of rich countries and corporate powers, it would set up a "shadowy new anti-counterfeiting body to allow private interests to police everything that we do online and impose massive penalties -- even prison sentences -- against people they say have harmed their business." This is nicely summarized on the North Carolina Journal of Law & Technology.
Why is this happening? Didn't we win on SOPA and PIPA? (Ding Dong the Witch, SOPA And PIPA Are Dead) We certainly would like to stop the malicious destruction of our business. Confusing privacy with free speech, however, is not the answer. We have laws designed to prevent people from recklessly harming our business, but our digital footprint includes people reacting to us. We are that whole picture of actions up to now, trends, aggregated judgments are given a full range in times and circumstances. Beyond criminal acts, who we include if people did or did not like us. Big business doesn't get too quiet any of that.
We are a set of behaviors that continuously evolve a pattern of what we currently do, and most likely will do in the future. Our digital reputation is becoming as salient as our fingerprints. That we can be profiled is not new information, but that we operate with knowledge of that profiling is to me, at least, the point of this game.
Please, consider reading "Even Without Cookies, A Browser Leaves a Trail of Crumbs", copyright Ars Technica © 2012 Condé Nast Digital. The article goes into many of the same details mentioned in our recent feature Are We Ready To Be A Society In The Cloud?
The "trail of crumbs" revealed in the review of Panopticlick, however, reveals that our signature behaviors are not removed when we "Opt-Out" of advertising. Even if the SOPA ruling had passed, and even with the EU Data Privacy cookie law, we still create so many unique signatures that it's just not possible to be entirely anonymous in the cloud. We have to create greater protection over our rights to do what we do, not hide what we do. It's out there. There's no turning it back.
We can protect a transaction, but it's unlikely we will ever prevent knowledge and record that the transaction exists. We become users of banks, of medical facilities, of retail communities. We don't need names. Our digital DNA is already there.
Consider that when we use the internet to do our banking, communicate with our doctors, to engage in double-blind drug trial reporting, we might as well be walking into their front lobby, wearing a name tag and smiling for a camera. There are things that must remain private, but that we do private things appear to be a record that is completely off the table. We can stop doing business with people who damage our reputation, and we should.