Martha Russell on Respecting Digital Identity
September 2, 2012
Many aspects of our daily lives are now infused with digital experiences. We are interacting in digital spaces where, in accessing experiences and content, we voluntarily and intentionally create content. Due to mass adoption of digital technologies, vast quantities of personal data are collected and used by many new businesses: who we are, who we know, where we are, where we have been and where we plan to go. This has created a “social media ecosystem” in the computing platform that lives and breathes on information about it users, as one type of user-generated content.
Users leave digital footprints through their behavior in both the digital and physical worlds. The real world behavior that produces the data takes place in a specific context. In the digital world, data created about the user may lack context or be used out of context. Consumers have little influence over the services and companies that collect, curate, use and sell their data. Researchers and policy advocates are only now beginning to understand the implications of digital environments on people’s self-concepts, social affordances and personal rights.
With these rapid technological developments, it is imperative to reaffirm the essence of self-determination that is associated with privacy and the protection from harm. Privacy-enabling technologies must evolve from focusing on restricting personal data collection to a more holistic view of the personal data ecosystem. The design of products and services that use personal data must enable trusting relationships.