Data Protection?

Data Protection? 150 150 Ben Coker

Data Protection?

What on earth is going on?

I have a strong feeling that someone, or maybe everyone is ‘missing the point’.

Data protection, freedom of information, fake news (which to my mind is anything written by a journalist), ‘privacy’ policies, cyber security and cyber ‘wars’.

And so on.

It’s the Tower of Babel all over again – turning into the tower of babble with everyone talking at once putting forward their opinion on how we should or should not use information.

This is the ‘information revolution’. We’ve moved beyond the industrial and technological revolutions which have made this current phase of human evolution and the subsequent ‘information age’ possible.

The thing is that we, humanity, have no idea either of what to do with or what we are doing with all this ‘information’.

Just to pause for a minute let’s understand what I mean when I use the terms ‘data’ and ‘information’.

Look at your address. It contains four or five bits of data:

Your house number or name, the street name, the town name, the county, the postcode (which itself is made up of another four or five data elements).

Then of course there’s the state or country, the continent, the planet, the solar system, the galaxy etc. (Remember doing that when you were a kid?)

Put all that data together and you get ‘information’ – your postal address.

And if you think about it, all those bits of data are useless until they are put together.

Drilling down into the data is a bit like particle physics, there’s no end to it. The word ‘data’ itself is actually the plural of ‘datum’ but that just gets too complicated to explain.

Let’s just forget about ‘data’. ‘Data protection’ is a misnomer. I live in Europe, and even if I say the UK, or Cheshire, it doesn’t really give anyone much to go on if they wanted to find me.

What people are ‘worried’ about (seemingly, so the media tells us, and this could be ‘fake’ news as well) is actually information protection.

But where does this fear come from?

There are two elements to this. You and I would like to know who has what information about us, but do we care how they came by it or what they plan to use it for, or how long they intend to keep it?

Not really, we just want to know who has what information.

But there are other people around who take a different view, and many of them have been ‘scared’ by the media, and I include so called ‘social’ media in this, into believing that people are collecting information about them in order to do them some sort of harm.

They become paranoid about their ‘data’, their information being in the ‘wrong hands’ – and they react.

Or should I say over-react?

They do everything they can to keep their information ‘secret’.

There is only a small minority of people who think like this, but because of skewed publicity and reporting, politicians and the ‘powers that be’ have come to believe that they will get more votes and stay ‘in power’ if they make rules in ‘everyone’s’ interest about who (other than them of course) can hold what information for how long and for what purpose.

Are we heading towards a society where people will have to go around wearing badges that say ‘Leave me alone’ or ‘Please talk to me’ so that we know who we have ‘permission’ to interact with and who we don’t?

I asked at the beginning, are they/we missing the point?

You see, I really don’t believe that ‘everyone’ wants to cut themselves off from the rest of society.

I don’t believe that all these people want to deny themselves new experiences or new knowledge.

And I don’t believe that they don’t want anyone else to know that they exist or to be denied access to information about them that could help them or even save their lives!

The point is that information has no value unless it is shared.

As a species we need to communicate – without communication, without sharing information, we will stagnate and cease to evolve.

We need to share information about ourselves, about who we are, what we do, about how we feel, about how we perceive the world around us.

The point is that information has no value unless it is shared.

And sharing is a two-way process.

You and I must be open to hear what others have to say – about themselves, what they feel, and what they believe they have to offer.

The problem is though that so many people have come to believe that any approach to them from anyone else, even people they know, is an attempt to ‘sell’ them something.

An attempt to persuade them to do something, to believe in something, to purchase something.

The trouble is that those people who want to ‘hide’ themselves away from all this also believe that these approaches are never for their benefit but entirely for the benefit of the person contacting them.

Sure, sometimes this is true, but most times they are for the benefit of the person being contacted.

People are being given a choice.

‘Opt In’ or ‘Miss Out’.

If you and I want to benefit from the wisdom, the inventiveness, and the benevolence of people who really just want to contribute to society in some way, then we should ‘opt in’.

We don’t need ‘protection’. We can be selective in what we choose to listen to or take notice of, we can ‘change channel’, it’s our choice.

You and I don’t need someone else, some ‘authority’, to dictate what we can and cannot give or receive.

We don’t need rules and regulations to dictate what we can and cannot do on the internet, and rules are irrelevant because if someone wants to break them they will. They always have.

For those people who don’t want to receive messages, don’t want to get advertisements, don’t want to participate the answer is simple.

Switch it off, disconnect the phone, switch off the TV or the radio. Unplug from the matrix. ‘miss out’.

This isn’t the first time, there have been many previous attempts by governments and religions to restrict communication and the sharing of ideas.

It’s never worked, and it won’t work now.

We’re an inventive bunch, us humans, and we’ll find some way around whatever restrictions are put in place.

Some new technology perhaps, or as beloved of many science fiction writers, some method of thought transference.

Preventing people from communicating didn’t work for the higher power in the Tower of Babel story, so what chance does it have or working this time?

I don’t want to miss out – I’m opting in.

How about you?