Data Privacy, Put to the Test in a Supreme Court Case – NYTimes.com

Data Privacy, Put to the Test in a Supreme Court Case – NYTimes.com.

This case is enormously important. One way of looking at it is not from the perspective of “control,” as in, “I want to control my public persona,” which puts a lot of weight on “control,” but on the similar dynamic of what it  means to be(come) a commodity. It’s not quite the same as chattel slavery; hardly. The object in question–the consumer who leaves a trail of identity constituting the soul which holds him to account–is not being asked to do things. But the loss of privacy here, which is tantamount to the commercialisation of public identity by others in despite of the will of the person (and we can further include the marketing of genetic code, blood, and other body tissues: what’s the difference?), is effectively a modern form of slavery by other means.

The point I’m trying to make is oddly not the libertarian one that we absolutely own our own selves, but rather the more complex one that we never do. And for that reason, we need to establish defensible boundaries of identity, much as in the same way we have set perimeters defining the limits of our home, our family, even “our” nation. All these are conventions, though “family” is also probably a thing that comes before and after convention. But its extent, and the degree to which we can act on and with it, is a thing of convention, a thing, that is, of social definition and negotiation.