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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.



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.


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, 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.



I am not a number….I AM a free man!

08 Apr

1982 lyrics for  “The Prisoner”

[Steve Harris and Adrian Smith]

I’m on the run, I kill to eat
I’m starving now, feeling dead on my feet
Going all the way, I’m natures beast
Do what I want and do as I please

Run – Fight – To breathe – It’s tough
Now you see me now you don’t
Break the walls I’m coming out

Not a prisoner I’m a free man
And my blood is my own now
Don’t care where the past was
I know where I’m going …out!

If you kill me it’s self defense
And if I kill ya’ then I call it vengeance
Spit in your eye I will defy
You’ll be afraid when I call out your name

Run – Fight – To breathe – It’s gonna be tough
Now you see me now you don’t
Break the walls I’m coming out

Not a prisoner I’m a free man
And my blood is my own now
Don’t care where the past was
I know where I’m going

I’m not a number I’m a free man
Live my life where I want to
You’d better scratch me from your black book
Cause’ I’ll run rings around you

Bill Moyers on the truth

15 Feb

The essence of 1984 was not about “Big Brother Watching You”.  If you read that story in High School you may have missed the subtle and more serious issues of losing the truth.  Bill Moyers had a great story on how America Can’t Deal with Reality-this is just an excerpt.

George Orwell had warned six decades ago that the corrosion of language goes hand in hand with the corruption of democracy. If he were around today, he would remind us that “like the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket,” this kind of propaganda engenders a “protective stupidity” almost impossible for facts to penetrate.

But you, my colleagues, can’t give up. If you do, there’s no chance any public memory of everyday truths – the tangible, touchable, palpable realities so vital to democracy – will survive. We would be left to the mercy of the agitated amnesiacs who “make” their own reality, as one of them boasted at the time America invaded Iraq, in order to maintain their hold on the public mind and the levers of power. You will remember that in Orwell’s novel “1984,” Big Brother banishes history to the memory hole, where inconvenient facts simply disappear. Control of the present rests on obliteration of the past. The figure of O’Brien, who is the personification of Big Brother, says to the protagonist, Winston Smith: “We shall squeeze you empty and then we shall fill you with ourselves.” And they do. The bureaucrats in the Ministry of Truth destroy the records of the past and publish new versions. These in turn are superseded by yet more revisions. Why? Because people without memory are at the mercy of the powers that be; there is nothing against which to measure what they are told today. History is obliterated.–_we_must_be_exposed_to_the_truth,_even_if_it_hurts/?page=entire

“Free” Internet Service

26 Apr

How much should each one of us pay to have access to the internet?

I think it should be something like the annual pass fee for the National Parks.

(This is taken from the National Parks Service FAQ )

How many employees are in the National Park Service?

Permanent, Temporary, and Seasonal – Approximately 20,500 diverse professionals

Volunteers in Parks – 145,000

How many people visit the National Parks?

Total recreation visitors to the National Parks in 2009: 285,579,941

Visit the Public Use Statistics for more detailed information.

What is the National Park Service Budget?

FY 2010 Enacted – $3.16 billion

FY 2011 Request – $3.14 billion

How do I obtain a park pass?

Visitors can obtain park passes by visiting their nearest park site. Most sites have passes available, however it is recommended to call a      park prior to your visit. Learn more about the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass.

(note: based on the annual 2009 visitors and the 2010 budget that is like $11.00 per person)

And,  if you are older yeah, you get a discount….maybe like 50%

Here is what I think I should pay…

Remember there are 350 Million individuals. Even if two fifths of them paid, that would be 140 Million individuals

@$10/year that would be $1.4Billion dollars per year

@$20/year that would be $2.8 Billion dollars per year

Since the internet charges for both ingress and egress traffic (they charge you and the person you are connecting to) they get paid twice for most traffic.

I vote for “free” being less than $20.00 / year for individual internet access.  Let them get the rest from the companies that we connect to.

Most of the internet facilities I have been to are “lights out” (nobody works there) and their costs are for equipment and electricity.  It doesn’t take a lot of people to run the internet.  The equipment is depreciated so the companies get tax breaks on the equipment and the expenses as the costs of business.

Oh yeah, if we made it easy to get a wireless connection (no password) I doubt we would need many customer service people (no password reset).  Companies don’t need much support after installation and most of it can be done remotely.

The internet by definition is “best efforts” delivery so I am not paying for or getting quality of service.

I can afford $20.00 and that includes access at home and away.  Make sure I have Wi-Fi and I will only use my cell when I can’t get Wi-Fi service.  So I get it “free” on my cell phone plan too.