Welcome to the Personal Data Coalition site.

"It is all in the way we manage information"

I have a dream and it is fully digital

29 Aug

I have a dream and it is fully digital

It is not 1963 and things have changed a lot since then.  But, the issues we still face are the same. It is still about jobs and freedom but now, all 99% of us are the persecuted and discriminated ones.  To varying degrees this discrimination is based on old stereotypes (race, age, religion, etc) and new ones (technical skills, network access, computer hardware).  On the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington we have Dr. Martin Luther King to thank for giving us the vision of everyone holding hands and singing that Negro spiritual “Free at Last”.

To get our Freedom back we must understand how we lost it.  We gave it away.  We gave it to every company, employer, local, state, federal agencies, schools, doctors, and even friends and strangers.  To make it easier we created social networks.  If we want our Freedom back, then we have to stop giving it away.  Specifically, we have to stop giving our information away.  It is simple to say and hard in practice.

I have a dream.

…That someday we will be in control of our data and our lives.

…Someday we will all be able to build an economic model based on equality and non-discriminating technology.

…Our virtual selves will be colorless.

…that we can share only what is required and never have to give our information away again.

I have a dream that every person has free and open access to their information.

I have a dream that every every person will be equally treated by our laws and that our laws will be administered fairly.

I have a dream that our data will be given the same constitutional protections as our other personal property

and that our Government will do everything in their power to protect our property.  Our Government was created to serve its citizens.  We need that service and protection.

The digital future is real and it is here…today!  Please do not kid yourself that we know how to live in a digital world.  We do not.  Everything we do today to manage information, especially personal data is just plain wrong.  The direction we are headed will only lead us to a more dire and tragic future of a world with no jobs and no freedom.  That is digital slavery and we can’t let that happen.

The transistor invented in Bell Labs (a research division of AT&T) was created to help improve the quality and ability to talk on the telephone across the distances of the United States and the entire world.  At the same time the invention of the BIT (the basic unit of information) was published by another researcher at Bell Labs.  It is the combination of the transistor and the BIT that was the sentinel moment of the Digital Age and Revolution.


Privacy is NOT dead

29 Mar

“‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'” – George Orwell 1984

You have been told over and over that Privacy is dead, buried, gone for ever.

The Personal Data Coalition does not believe that.

We are fighting to help people understand that privacy is not a business.  It is a Constitutional Right granted in the Fourth Amendment.  Privacy can’t be something you can buy, although today, that is the prevailing idea.  Privacy is not for the smart or the Luddites.  Privacy knows no color, race, sex or religious preferences.  Privacy is really about the rule of law and society.  It is about the Truth.  Privacy is about our security.

We must feel secure in our lives or we become a society of Anarchy driven by might, guns and fear.  We cannot feel secure if others have our information and we don’t know what they are doing with it.

If our Government cannot protect it’s citizens then it fails to be relevant.  We have seen more every day where our protection is at risk and cyber-security is the next major area of risk.

“In God we Trust, all others pay cash”

With the invention of the transistor and the BIT (the basic unit of information) the digital world was born.  It is a genie we will not get back into the bottle as long as the electricity stays on.  We can’t ignore the consequences of the digital world and how it is changing society.  We can take steps to make it rational and reasonable and keep it from destroying our lives.

Steps you can take.

1. Demand that your Government protect its citizens and their property, digital or otherwise.

2. Ask your Government to develop a technology to keep your information private and secure and separate from other peoples information.

3. Spread the word that Privacy is not dead.

4. Remember that Corporations should never keep your personal information but they should be able to access your information when you agree to let them.

5. Remember that Corporations should pay you for information that they want. Nothing in this world is free.

6. Remember that protecting your personal information is the responsibility of the Government and not something we can do on our own.  No company can protect your information.  In God we Trust…..all others pay cash.

7. Know that Relational Database Technology cannot protect your information.  It is the root cause of the problem.

8. Everything is tracked, traceable and monitored.  That information is personal and should be kept private also.

If I were an Information Architect

21 Feb

Information Architect

If I were an Information Architect and I had the job of organizing all of this worlds information….how would I design the system to hold the World of information around us.  Would I do it any better than what we have today?

Like any Architect, I would like to know the users and the uses of the thing I was going to design.  All of the requirements that are needed to store and Information Architectdisplay the information should be defined before we begin any construction.  And like any Architect, someone is paying for this design and ultimately the construction of this system so it must meet their budget and cost guidelines.  Who is the customer for this project?  That is a great question.  It could be many people (literally) or it could be a Sovereign Government or maybe a Corporation.  In fact, it is all of the above.  Everyone and everything needs and uses information.  It is the absolute building block of everything around us.

Physical objects embed their information into their structure.  It becomes one with the object.  We can describe physical objects with information and very detailed photos, drawings, specifications and keep that separate from the object as well.  The information is not connected to the object so as the object changes updates to the information must be made where the embedded information in the object is always up-to-date.  We will call that information a point-in-time design specification type of information.

We receive information continuously all the time.  That information is transient in nature and is often never recorded or remembered as accurately.  Our brains remember many transient events and places and people but those memories are limited by the perspective and filters of the person recalling those memories.  This transient information we receive is like the air we breathe.

Lewis Carrol, author of “Alice in Wonderland”,  fancifully envisioned a full-scale map of the world but soon realized that it would be too big to be of any use.  Any attempt to manage all of the Worlds information would be like trying to make a full-scale map and would be too big to be of any use.

We can see that a lot of information exists, but most of the information that an Architect needs to include in a design is much smaller in nature, easily created and involves unique items whether it is a person or some other item.  This is information that would not exist if the person of object did not exist.  For a person we shall call this personal information.  For an object we shall call it object information.  It is data, made up of the discrete unit of measure called a bit.  A bit is the smallest discrete unit of information in a digital system.  Bits get organized by standard methods into sets and those bits become information.

Everyone of us creates information and needs information.  Mostly we need transient information from the sea of information around us and use as much as we create.  As we organize into families, communities and larger groups the need for different and more specialized information grows.  In today’s society without all of the structure that information provides everything would collapse.  This specialized information that we use everyday is critical to our lives and is difficult to manage.  It is located in hundreds of different places and different systems some that we have access to and many that we do not.  We have no idea who is accessing it and how securely it is managed.  Each day more information is created and deposited in more and more places.  It seems like this may be a good place to look at a re-design.

What if….all of our personal information was in just one and only one place?  Wouldn’t that make it more convenient to manage and secure?  If I were an Information Architect that is what I would start with.  A single place for each person’s information.  It would be accessible with the proper security and authentication over a “high-speed network” like the Internet.  It would always be available and there would be multiple copies of the database to ensure that it would always be available.  It would also be read-only.  You could make a copy (clearly marked as a copy) but you couldn’t change the data that was already stored.

This would be a large-scale endeavor.  Taking all of our information and putting it in one place.  Why would or why should we do this?  Security and privacy for one reason.  Convenience for another reason.  Accuracy and access for a few more.  We need to find a better way to secure and manage our personal information and paying for a service that notifies you after something bad has happened is not a good solution.  We could start small.  The rewards would be enormous.  Savings in the TRILLIONS of DOLLARS a YEAR…not to mention the better quality of information, speed and access as well as better security and privacy.


Rules of Engagement

08 Nov

Rules of engagement

The battle for individual control of privacy (and our personal data) is heating up.  Microsoft with its Do Not Track feature in Windows 8, preset to “No”, has just thrown sand into the marketing gears of the Information Age moguls and entrepreneurs.  After years of seduction by Silicon Valley on the wonders of the Internet, the reality of loosing our freedom and anonymity is finally raising a level of concern, and not just in cyberspace. There is increasing anxiety about traffic cameras, GPS tracking, and robo-call election campaigning to name a few of the other slippery slopes.

The signs of increased push-back and the desire to have more self-initiated control are there as well.  It started with unsubscribe requirements newsletters and marketing messages and the Do Not Call list legislation.  Now, with caller ID standard on most cellular and landline phones as well as cable television, we have an up-front choice to “opt-in” or “out” of any intrusion.  We want to be in control of who invades our “space.”  We want to protect our privacy as well as preserve our freedom of choice.

The war, however, is far from won.  As with almost everything else in life, this one, too, is about the money.  Follow the money.  It is the lifeblood of Google, Facebook, and Twitter.  It is also about control.  Control the delivery channel down to the individual and you control everything, content included.  The writers, artist, photographers, and, yes, the content providers like you and me, are left at their mercy.  Take away our personal data and the marketing revenue stream becomes little more than a trickle.



But it is more serious than just loss of revenue.  It is also about loss of freedom and our loss of anonymity.  Like frogs in cold water, we have been steadily loosing our personal freedom as the Internet marketing community slowly turns up the information gathering and usage heat.

Back to the Basics

Freedom is what being a human is all about.  Protecting that freedom is why the Founding Fathers wrote the United States Constitution.  “Give me liberty…or give me death” was their slogan.  The Constitution defines the boundaries and the rules of engagement for protecting that freedom.  The American Revolution had many causes…like Taxation without representation, loss of liberty and self-rule, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, speech, and yes, anonymity.  Without anonymity and some great thinkers to take advantage of it, the our American Revolution might not have happened.  Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, and others were some of the revolutionary thinkers and writers but the publishers under the cover of anonymity made possible the communication of those ideas. The many wars and global conflicts since then give testimony to the necessity of being prepared to protect and even die for our Constitution and the freedoms it protects.

It was simpler then, but now, the Information Age, and more specifically the conversion from analog to digital of everything, has changed this.

The Internet revolution has its own many causes…like, Freedom of information, Free Software, Free Music, and data access to everything at our fingertips, …  Free music, free video, free everything.  But do not mistake Free for Freedom.  And although there have been many declarations of Internet freedom and independence (John Perry Barlow, Jaron Lanier, 99%, Tea Party, Al Gore) , we have yet to define the new rules — the boundaries of our cyberspace behavior.

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace

by John Perry Barlow <[email protected]>

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks. I declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. We did not invite you. You do not know us, nor do you know our world. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. You do not know our culture, our ethics, or the unwritten codes that already provide our society more order than could be obtained by any of your impositions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our precincts. Many of these problems don’t exist. Where there are real conflicts, where there are wrongs, we will identify them and address them by our means. We are forming our own Social Contract . This governance will arise according to the conditions of our world, not yours. Our world is different.

Cyberspace consists of transactions, relationships, and thought itself, arrayed like a standing wave in the web of our communications. Ours is a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live.

We are creating a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth.

We are creating a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.

Your legal concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is no matter here.

Our identities have no bodies, so, unlike you, we cannot obtain order by physical coercion. We believe that from ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal, our governance will emerge . Our identities may be distributed across many of your jurisdictions. The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule. We hope we will be able to build our particular solutions on that basis. But we cannot accept the solutions you are attempting to impose.

In the United States, you have today created a law, the Telecommunications Reform Act, which repudiates your own Constitution and insults the dreams of Jefferson, Washington, Mill, Madison, DeToqueville, and Brandeis. These dreams must now be born anew in us.

You are terrified of your own children, since they are natives in a world where you will always be immigrants. Because you fear them, you entrust your bureaucracies with the parental responsibilities you are too cowardly to confront yourselves. In our world, all the sentiments and expressions of humanity, from the debasing to the angelic, are parts of a seamless whole, the global conversation of bits. We cannot separate the air that chokes from the air upon which wings beat.

In China, Germany, France, Russia, Singapore, Italy and the United States, you are trying to ward off the virus of liberty by erecting guard posts at the frontiers of Cyberspace. These may keep out the contagion for a small time, but they will not work in a world that will soon be blanketed in bit-bearing media.

Your increasingly obsolete information industries would perpetuate themselves by proposing laws, in America and elsewhere, that claim to own speech itself throughout the world. These laws would declare ideas to be another industrial product, no more noble than pig iron. In our world, whatever the human mind may create can be reproduced and distributed infinitely at no cost. The global conveyance of thought no longer requires your factories to accomplish.

These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant, uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies. We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts.

We will create a civilization of the Mind in Cyberspace. May it be more humane and fair than the world your governments have made before.

Davos, Switzerland

February 8, 1996

How should we do this?  The American Revolution provided a framework for “self rule” in a new form of government where the people were superior to the “government” but subservient to the rule-of-law.  The sovereign state was to protect the individuals and their persons and papers, regulate trade and commerce, negotiate treaties and establish a representative form of government that could respond to future changes.  But did it anticipate the internet revolution, the digital age and the rise of corporate oligarchy?  Probably not, but they did know that we cannot move forward without a constitution, that we cannot ignore change, that we must live in spite of it and not through loopholes.  People matter, rules matter, natural law matters (life, liberty and the pursuits of science, art, happiness).  The rule-of-law makes it happen.

It’s back to the basics.  John Perry Barlow and Jaron Lanier said that the laws we live by greatly lag the technology of the day or constrain us in ways we cannot see.  Nothing could be truer in the 21st century than the vast space between constitutional freedoms and the “rights” of the Internet.  Copyright, patents, and other tools for protection of invention and human creativity were designed for the “physical nature” of the Industrial Age.  We can touch and feel books and machinery but they are hard to copy.  In our digital world, we can copy them without much effort at all.  Today, protecting their ownership and value, is far more elusive.  We need rules that are no longer as much about safeguarding what things do but protecting the ownership of the intellectual property provided by their creators.  Yet, we have precedent.  Privacy and anonymity were part of our founding fathers thinking.  We just need to reapply them to today’s thinking.

The great thinkers of our time believe that privacy and anonymity are also principles behind the founding of the Internet. Recently, Bob Metcalfe (founder of the Internet and Ethernet) said that “anonymity was a major design requirement in the TCP/IP protocol” source addresses were not to be “reviewed or analyzed”.  The network was to be blind to the traffic it carried.  It was not the network’s responsibility to determine the “value” of the packets…”we are living in an era of obscenely abundant bandwidth”…Metcalfe quipped…”look what we are doing with the excess”…”YouTube”

Where do we stand today?  Unregulated trade in an individual’s information is a form of slavery even if it includes 99% of the population.  Hyperbole yes, but nevertheless we have slid far down the slippery slope of placing corporate greed ahead of individual rights.  We need to put the individual, yes, each one of us, back at the top of the list, numero uno.  If we don’t, we can’t help but dissolve into oligarchy and corporate rule.  We must stand together for our rights as people by acknowledging that our property can and does also exist in digital form and must be protected.

What do we do?

The Personal Data Coalition believes that the following four barriers must be overcome if we are to resolve the cyber property rights issue:  Legal, Financial, Technical, and Sociopolitical.

Legal:  The 4th Amendment is popularly viewed as the search and seizure or the man-and-his-castle amendment.  Over time, however, interpretations have been made to include the right of privacy in automobiles and with the advent of the digital age, the computer.  Although implied, the right of ownership needs to be more clearly defined.  Our data is our data regardless if it is shared with a third party (ie Third Party Doctrine).  The nature of digital information is it’s ability to transcend physical location.  Fundamentally, we need to ask, “Is our personal data our personal property” and “what are our rights”?  Answering the question is fundamental to our freedom, now and in the world to come, and should be part of our Constitution and “Rules of Engagement”.

Financial:  The Internet is still in its “Wild Wild West” phase.  Liberties are being taken in the name of convenience and marketing efficiency that are, in reality, leveraging the intellectual and personal property of individuals without proper compensation.  It is a form of a Ponzi scheme that if not stopped the consequence is loss of freedom.  As discussed earlier in this piece, people are starting to show their concern.  The newly formed Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium, perhaps sensing long overdue concern for this issue, is proposing the creation of information management standards.  Although their activities may be just “letting the fox in the hen house”, they may be a step in the right direction.  As usual the jury is still out and the devil is in the details.

Technical:  The Personal Data Coalition and its technical partner PEA Computing have long believed that the over 30 year’s dominance of the Relational Database has been a key barrier to efficient individual information property management.  As a consequence, our personal data is scattered over thousand’s of unsupervised databases.  Most of it is out of date, inaccurate, misleading, and unsecured.  The net result is that there is no single version of the truth, anywhere.  And, as we are now learning, the adverse consequences are steadily on the rise.

Sociopolitical:  The fear of big brother and Orwell’s 1984 may be the greatest barrier.  On the surface providing constitutional protection for personal data would seem to give the government ultimate control of our freedom.  Yet, information about us is already in their hands as well as thousands of businesses and individuals. This is not only inefficient and probably dangerous, but will likely lead the very situation that we all fear.  The Constitution has provided the order and guidance through the rule-of-law we have needed over the past 200+ years.  It can do the same for us for the next 200 years.  Thus, it must not be ignored.

Simple things …

24 Oct

 Simple things….

Something simple…that the Personal Data Coalition believes… is that everyone needs protection for their personal electronic information and data.  The fourth amendment needs to be updated to protect every U.S. Citizen’s Personal Data.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

We need to get Constitutional rights for our electronic information just as we have protection for our papers as personal property.  Why should a paper copy of a bank statement be protected by search and seizure laws and our online data not?

Our country was founded with the acknowledgement that ideas and works of science and art  need copyright and patent protection.  In the digital age we struggle with the protection of digital works.  If we created a secure, reliable, online repository for our creative works with attribution and legal protection we could help address the problems with digital copyright and patent protection.

Copyright and Patent protection is a role and responsibility of our Sovereign Government.  Until there are Constitutional Protections (acknowledgement of our digital information and data as personal property) our Government has no responsibility to protect those works.  The Personal Data Coalition believes giving our digital information and data constitutional protection will allow the U.S. Government to protect its citizens in a digital age.  It will begin to fix the copyright and patent problems we face today.

We need to update the U.S. Constitution for the digital age.  Larry Lessig is fighting for the Constitution of the United States.  You can watch a recent video here.   It is time to look at the Constitution in the digital age and update it to reflect our digital lives.


Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

23 Apr

The following is a discussion of the Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World:

A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy, (hereafter referred to as the Privacy Framework) is a fifty-two page treatise published by The White House on February 23, 2012 that presents the President’s imitative in this area.  While the Personal Data Collation applauds the Administration’s acknowledgement that privacy is an issue of major concern, we are concerned that they have overlooked one of the fundamentals – that privacy is more than keeping secrets, it is also about the protection of property.

Note:  The terms data and information are often interchanged. 

Data are values of qualitative or quantitative variables belonging to a set of items. 

Information is an ordered sequence of symbols (data) that can be interpreted as a message or provides some meaning.  For purposes of this discussion, both are considered one in the same.  Also, since we believe that personal data must be also considered as personal property, we will not be commenting on Section III through the end of the document.

 Think “property owner”, not “consumer privacy”

Privacy violation, as defined in the Privacy Framework, is the misuse of data that can be connected to an individual.

It does not mention the misuse of data as also the misuse of property.  Consequently, this limits the scope and confuses the nature of information-based privacy.  The result is a profusion of confusing and difficult to implement administrative policies, practices and procedures.  If privacy and (personal) property were to be linked, then we believe that they would (collectively) come under protection to the U.S. Constitution, making enforcement clearer, cleaner and simpler.  One does not enter a man’s house without a warrant not because it is a bad policy, but because is against the law.  We don’t take his property because it is not ours to take, plain and simple. We respect on the rule-of-law where the rules are based on individual’s rights (the Bill of Rights) and not the desires of the end users.  As a U.S. citizen, the individual, the owner of his or her personal data, should have the ultimate control and not the businesses and other parties that only use it.

We cannot protect our rights for privacy (as it relates to our personal data) without also examining our right to protect our personal property as provided by the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  Like bacon and eggs, privacy and property go together. They are the ying and the yang of protecting personal data.

One cannot be considered without the other, which is why we continue to have problems arriving at the workable solution to the increasing abuse of individual privacy in the Information Age.  There is no better proof of statement than the discussion of what is known as the third party doctrine.   As reported by Timothy Lee on techdirt.com, third party doctrine is the legal principle that says, in effect, “you lose your Fourth Amendment rights when you relinquish information to a third party.”  Lee goes on to state that the “doctrine has become increasingly important with the rise of modern technology because we now entrust a host of private data — including our email, cell phone calling data, credit card transactions, and more — to private companies, and the third party doctrine would seem to suggest that Fourth Amendment protections would not extend to such information.”  Lee is against extending the use of the third party doctrine.  In his words, “(S)ticking with the third party doctrine would make the Fourth Amendment less and less relevant as technology changes because more and more private information to be held by third parties. If we want the Fourth Amendment to continue to be an effective protection for peoples’ privacy, and we think we do, it needs to be continuously updated to reflect changing technological realities.”  The Personal Data Coalition could not be more in agreement.

Continuing the current Oligarchy:

The focus of the White House’s Privacy Framework conforms to the Oligarchy view and is limited to the commercial aspects as viewed from a company or business perspective.  While part of the Privacy Framework dialogue includes a “discussion of how to protect privacy in a networked society involving public and private, industry and commercial, academic and governmental players”, its narrow scope focuses only on one the many ways we use our personal data.  We already have the (frustrating) experience of adding privacy provisions in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Public Law 104-191 that delayed its implementation for five years.  Will we have the same problems with commerce?  What about the IRS or the Social Security Administration?  Without the rule-of-law, the end will never be in sight.

Information as Property and the Rule-of-Law

We wonder how different the Privacy Framework would be if it was written from an individual ownership and personal property point-of-view.  We also wonder if it included a wider spectrum of users.  We are sure that if we were talking about a book, song, invention or some other “physical” form of creative work, the information as property argument would be much easier to make.

But we don’t always get things right the first time. In 1776 the Continental Congress crafted the Declaration of Independence.  Followed by the Articles of Confederation in 1781, it created a weak central government and thirteen individual states, each with their own sovereign powers to create such things as their own currency, stamps, laws, etc.  It did not work and by 1789 the Articles were replaced by the much more workable U.S. Constitution and, most importantly, the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights is the secret sauce of what we were to and have become as a great nation – the rule-of-law with the protection of the rights of the individual citizens as the start point.  They were, perhaps, the first “codes of conduct” and have been with us for over two centuries.  They already exist. They work, and in doing so, eliminate the   need to write new ones for privacy and property.  We can just adapt them to what we already have – the 4th Amendment – keeping privacy protection simple and within our already existing legal framework.   Likewise, the Bill of Rights doesn’t discriminate by industry or affiliation, so why should we start now?  Personal data, privacy, and property are fundamental to the individual and agnostic to governments, associations, businesses, and organizations in their many forms.  We should keep it that way.

The President, in his cover letter of February 23, 2012, sets the stage for privacy, provides a brief history, alludes to its legal and personal values, discusses the impact of the information and technology, and concludes with the stirring statement that “we must reject the conclusing that privacy in an outmoded value.  It has been at the heart of our democracy from its inception, and we need it now more than ever.”  He is spot-on to this point, but then ignores history.  He wants to create a new document, a new process, a new Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.  The Personal Data Coalition can only wonder if this is wise or even necessary.  We have the Constitution; why not use it for this issue as well?

Comments on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Objectives

The following is a commentary on the specific objectives of the Framework.

 1. Individual Control:  The Privacy Framework states that the consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect from them and how they use it.  On this we agree but wonder why consumers (owners) do not have rights concerning who can collect their personal data in the first place.   Unless there is a legal right under the law (i.e. driving record, arrest warrant), the process should be “opt-in”, not the current opt-out.  If we, by law, have the right to access to our credit reports, why don’t we have the same rights to access all of our personal data such as criminal/driving records, health, insurance, academic, and so forth?   All the time and for free!

2. Transparency: We would like to add “who gave them consent” to the list of requirements.  We would also add “in accordance with the 4th Amendment.”

3. Respect for Context:  Consumers must have the right to not only willingly provide the personal data (expect where required by the law) but have a way to verify that the data is being used as permitted.  It is the consumers (as owners) who should be in primary control (not the end user companies), as they are the ones who suffer the greatest consequences from misuse.

4. Security: We would add “as with any other form of personal property.”  The focus of this Objective is on the data, not the person (owner).  It should be the other way around.  Again, it is the consumer (owner) that has the most to lose.

5. Access and Accuracy: This provision, though well written, does not go far enough.  The consumer (owner) should at all times have the ability to monitor who is using their personal data, on whose authority (including 3rd party usage) they have access, what are the legal rights and limits, and for what purpose.  Also, since a person’s data is literally everywhere, only the consumer (owner) can determine if is the single version of the truth, which is to say, its accuracy

6. Focused Collection:  Why only reasonable limits on the personal data companies collect and retain?  Data is the personal property of the consumer (owner).  Its use should only be governed by the relevant laws or by the owner’s consent.

7. Accountability: We would change ‘adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights’ to ‘the U.S. Constitution.’

Information and Data as Property

We would also add an 8th Objective: Ownership.  In this object we would define personal data, its status as property, its ownership, and how it is the same or different from other forms of property.  We make this recommendation because the Framework is limited to the business context and only “applies (the) comprehensive, globally recognized Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPP’s)…”  The 4th Amendment makes no such distinction, which causes us to examine (question) the specific provisions from a personal property and well as privacy point-of-view.   Conversely, FIPP’s seem to not acknowledge personal information as property.

We also note that the focus is on developing a single set of privacy rules to be followed by companies.  The focus is on companies and the Federal Trade Commission. The tone is voluntary.  It assumes all personal data are the same.  The problem is that our personal data, data that is or could be used by companies, is also the same data that is used by other entities, government or private, for a wide variety of reason.  As nice as it sounds, person data cannot be that easily parsed.  It is just not possible to develop a workable set of rules for every situation from a multitude of users.  Privacy itself, as a concept, is just too vague.  This is why personal data as property make more sense.  Property rules, supported by the Constitution, are much more concise, reflect the rights of the individual (human) owner, and have withstood the test of time.

A statement starting in the middle of page 6 acknowledges the inconsistent standards resulting from the confusion and complexity of Federal data privacy statues as they apply to specific sectors and that the Administration supports extending protections to the sectors that existing Federal statues do not cover.  Our thought is “are we making things worse?”  Again, why are we treating personal data only through the ever-expanding morass of privacy regulations and codes of conduct without resolving the personal property issue?  We can’t make a rule for every possibility.  We need to “reverse the telescope”, focus on the individual at the Bill of Rights, and then move forward.  To do otherwise will encourage businesses and other organizations to continue to “game the system.”

What is missing is any discussion of personal data as property.  The footnote on page 12 of the Framework uses the term “personally identifiable information (PII)” as information that is linkable to a specific individual.  It goes on to say that PII is not anchored to any single category of information…that rather, it requires a case-by-case assessment of the specific risk that an individual can be identified.”

The Framework, through footnotes on page 5, stresses that it is “concerned solely with how private sector entities handle personal data in commercial settings.”  Footnotes not withstanding, the U. S. Constitution still comes first.  The Personal Data Coalition has no object as long as what is being done is constitutional.  We do not believe this to be the case.  Merely stating that when it comes to privacy that personal data is not personal property does not count.


We are at the crux of the issue…is our personal data our property?  Can the protection of our privacy be achieved without constitutional protection?  Is “consumer privacy” any different than any other privacy? Will the third party doctrine prevail?  These are the key points and they must be resolved before proceeding, before any practical solution can be reached.  They are just too fundamental to ignore.

The co-consideration of privacy and property, and the technology to implement it already exists in a working “proof of concept” – HIPAA.  Originally designed to facilitate electronic portability of employee medical records between employers, accelerate the reimbursement cycle by eliminating paper, and reduce errors and administrative overhead, it was not fully enacted until 2001 when provisions for data security and individual privacy were added.  Thus HIPAA set the stage for maintaining the privacy and protection of personal data on a national basis — where privacy and personal data issues are safeguarded in a single technical solution.

Violations of property are protected by our Constitution and therefore dealt with the rule of law, the courts, and our current law enforcement infrastructure.  Attaining privacy and protecting individual rights through voluntary consensus as proposed by the White House’s framework on personal data privacy is little more than “privacy by committee.”  There ought to be a simpler way to resolve this issue within our existing legal (and international) framework.



We the People demand….

14 Oct

Bill of Rights


We have a constitution that is over 200 years old.  It remains one of the most remarkable documents in the history of Man.  We Americans will always be the first union of people to have a Government that is subservient … that serves the people.  Today, we need to consider what changes to that document should be made.

The digital age has crept up on most of us and we need to consider the implications of a digital world.  We live in an era of exponential changes.  For the most part our digital lives feel like a convenient extension of what we have always known but, do not be deceived.  Our phones still allow us to make phone calls… but allow our every movement to be tracked.  Our cars still provide transportation…but they record everything about our car including where we go.  Our TV still provides “entertainment”… but keeps track of everything we watch.  Our banking, insurance, healthcare, credit, tax and investment information is recorded in detail.  We haven’t changed what we do but the information about what we do has changed.  We freely (unknowingly and without options) give more and more information away to our Corporate Oligarchy in exchange for convenience.  We are giving away control of our Liberty and our FreedomWe must stop doing this and blaming corporations for the problems we have created.

It is possible that most of the problems that we have with our Government and the corporations we interact with today stem from the misunderstanding that not all data is the same!  We need to understand that our information is something We keep and let others look at.  We need to control it not let others control it.  We shouldn’t just give it away or let it out of our control.  Ever!  We need a different information management model for the future.  This is a BIG change for the better.  We know we need to get our privacy back and keep it and the first step needs to be to recognize that not all data is the same!

Information is not just information and data is not just data and that is what We the People are all missing.  Information and data comes in all sorts of forms and formats.  Some data can be made available to everyone while other forms, such as Personal Data, should not.

The Personal Data Coalition believes We the People need to take back our Personal Data, our Liberty and our Freedom! The information that we create is our personal property and should never be out of our control. It starts the moment we are born and ends sometime after we are no longer here.   Our Personal Data is unique to each of us.

Our Personal Data should be kept in a single network connected location accessible at all times but not be out of that persons control.  If someone needs to see it, we should know who it is and grant them access.  (Which means that we need free and open access to our Personal Data at all times) If the data is accessed by warrant and properly served then our Sovereign Government has that right.  We believe and support the rule of law…and we now need a law that gives our Personal Data the status of Personal Property.  The Fourth Amendment gives protections to our personal property and it needs to explicitly include our Personal Data.

The Fourth Amendment:

Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures of his person, his houses, his papers, and all his possessions. All warrants, therefore, are contrary to this right, if the cause or foundation of them be not previously supported by oath or affirmation; and if the order in the warrant to a civil officer, to make search in suspected places, or to arrest one or more suspected persons, or to seize their property, be not accompanied with a special designation of the persons or objects of search, arrest, or seizure: and no warrant ought to be issued but in cases, and with the formalities, prescribed by the laws.

We ask (or DEMAND?) that our Constitutional Watchdogs work to include our Personal Data as our personal property and have Fourth Amendment Rights granted to our Personal Data.  We think it is appropriate to update the Constitution to take into account the changes brought on by the advent of computers and digital technologies.  Two Hundred Years is a long time.

Make our Personal Data our Personal Property.

All electronic data that a person creates or is created for that person shall be that person’s property.  All rights to that data shall remain with the person that created the data and all searches, seizures shall require a proper warrant as prescribed by law.

It is for this reason, that we believe it is important to raise awareness to the imbalance of power in our lives.  We believe the first demand should be to give American Citizens back their Personal Property.   We Americans should consider a world that is much more efficient, accurate and cost effective using a Personal Data Archive ™ system.  Our information must be accessible in a secure manner at all times from any location and under the control of the owner of that information.  Our Personal Data has value to us, but only when it is in our control.


Privacy for what it’s worth

06 Dec

“I like large parties, they’re so intimate. At small parties, there isn’t any privacy.”

That is a quote from The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald

It would lead one to believe that Big Data would be more intimate, and more private.  That point can clearly be argued but also gets to the mischievous nature that Gatsby is writing about.  It is easier to be lost in the crowd at a large party.  Encounters can take place without exposure.  The rule of law becomes self-enforcement or unenforceable.

Freedom and law abiding are related topics but don’t always pull in the same direction.

Intentions are always important.

We need to move towards a more regulated and law abiding system of information management.

What we are willing to give up

06 Dec

We gave up our information in exchange for convenience.  A while back we had choices.  We may still have a choice.

Live without a bank account, credit card, insurance, car, phone, drivers license…never fly, rent a car, have cable tv, get on the internet…


It would be a stark life, but you could make it.  Not having a credit score means renting.  You would have to pay cash for everything.

Your medicine and healthcare would have to come from free clinics.

In order to pay taxes  and file a return you would need a Social Security number and you would have to have a SSN to have a job.  You might be able to make one up….but I am not sure.


Big Data Peeps

21 Jul

When did we agree to let our data be used for research?

Just because this information is available for use does not make it right to use it.  We need to stop letting our personal data be used without our consent.  The only way to control that use is to protect it in a secure container that we control.  Help inform others of the need for legal protection for our personal data.


Big Data Peeps At Your Medical Records To Find Drug Problems : Shots – Health News : NPR.



Police Searches of Cellphones

29 Apr

All data is not the same – some of it is personal. 

Do you consider your Cellphone your personal Property?
Do you think the data on your CellPhone is your personal property?
Do you believe that a warrant should be needed to search your personal property as provided in the 4th amendment?
What protections does the U.S. Constitution provide and how do those protections work in today’s society?

Supreme Court Taking Up Police Searches of Data Troves Known as Cell phones – NYTimes.com.

Micro payment systems

05 Mar

We acknowledge the comment made by Jaron Lanier about micro payment systems, but it may be possible for micro payment systems to work auto-autonomously as long as there is bi-directional communication and protocols.  The need for a bi-directional URL may NOT be necessary.  The foundation of a micro payment economy may lie in the development of a personal data system of information management as proposed by Pea Computing.