Our data, ourselves: What if privacy is keeping us from reaping the real benefits of the infosphere?

By Leon Neyfakh, Boston Globe, May 22, 2011

… Taken together, the information that millions of us are generating about ourselves amounts to a data set of unimaginable size and growing complexity … Up to now, the public conversation on this kind of data has taken the form of an argument about privacy rights, with legal scholars, computer scientists, and others arguing for tighter restrictions on how our data is used by companies and the government, and consumer advocates instructing us on how to prevent our information from being collected and misused. But a small group of thinkers is suggesting an entirely new way of understanding our relationship with the data we generate. Instead of arguing about ownership and the right to privacy, they say, we should be imagining data as a public resource: a bountiful trove of information about our society which, if properly managed and cared for, can help us set better policy, more effectively run our institutions, promote public health, and generally give us a more accurate understanding of who we are. This growing pool of data should be public and anonymous, they say — and each of us should feel a civic responsibility to contribute to it. …

For full text of the article, visit Our data, ourselves – The Boston Globe.

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