Lets Solve the Problem of Restoring Internet Privacy! Francis Jeffrey, on How to do it
“What I am NOW proposing is that the law must be clarified to re-establish private ownership of all of one’s personal data, with limited and specific rights to use the data to be given in contractual situations.”
Francis Jeffrey, is an early internet pioneer, brilliant inventor/engineer/programmer and thinker.
“Francis Jeffrey is a pioneer and forecaster on the frontier interface between communication technologies and neuroscience. He is a consultant on ethical applications of science and technology, co-founder of civic and environmental organizations, and served as CEO of companies devoted to the application of biological principles in computer software & network design.” — According to published accounts
“Francis belongs in a fairly small category of highly innovative people I have been privileged to know: [Marvin] Minsky [Edward] Fredkin, Ted Nelson, John McCarthy come to mind…” – Jerry Pournelle, SiFi author and former Editor of BYTE magazine
He has some very good ideas, for solving the problems of data invasion, gathering and spying. Here is his concept:
In about 1982, I started talking around the idea of “Futures Leverage” as a networked interactive-creative format, and that each member would OWN their individual “information-action condominium” within a virtual, relational network. You could then invite people into your “condominium” for conversation, planning, etc.; but you individually OWNED that piece of informational “real estate.” And what guests brought in or took out, could be governed by agreement — as in the real world.
(Context: this was with early Internet, but before the web format existed; lots of BBS [bulletin board systems, now named “Blogs”] in those days, connected through various dial-up data networks, or as pier-to-pier networks [“CommuniTree” was an early one when the Apple II came out], and eventually Compuserve and AOL, etc., came into action. SO I quickly learned their limitations & complications.)
What I am NOW proposing is that the law must be clarified to re-establish private ownership of all of one’s personal data, with limited and specific rights to use the data to be given in contractual situations.
For example, if you have a business relationship with someone, then each of you is entitled to use the information exchanged in and necessary for that relationship; but, no one automatically gets the right to give away, sell or otherwise exploit the data (except by explicit and voluntary CONTRACT). And once the business relationship, or individual transaction, is completed and settled, the data would remain in a CONFIDENTIAL state for some period that is necessary for business records.
This paradigm was assumed under English-American “Common Law”, but has been eroded (lately at an accelerating pace). It is parallel with Common Law rights to Intellectual Property (“IP”) which supplement formal Copyright protection (etc.).
In addition to the obvious benefits, this approach solves many of what have become now pressing problems. For example, the dubious “Third Party Doctrine” is a Fed. Ct. precedent that for about 30 years has been exploited to assert that once you give data to a business (or gov. agency), you no longer have “a reasonable expectation of privacy” regarding what was communicated. Courts subsequently have over-applied this idea to, even, situations when the information was given involuntarily, accidentally or unknowingly — or even when it was effectively extorted from you. (It’s a crack-pot concept, but that is the current state of the Law in the U.S.!)
Much of the “legal basis” for the recently-revealed mass-spying, indeed hinges on the “Third Party Doctrine,” BECAUSE the laws on privacy say that you have a right to privacy ONLY in communications situations where you “have a reasonable expectation of privacy.” (This comes from the idea that if you are having a quiet conversation at home, or on the phone, it’s private; but if you are conversing loudly, out in a public place, they you are giving away the information to anyone who hears you..etc. etc.) This was an eminently reasonable view of the obvious the limits of privacy, until it was perverted into the “Third Party Doctrine” by judicial hyper-activism in support of governmental over-reach.
– Francis Jeffrey
Software Designers Look for Connections at Event, Los Angeles Times, by Karen Kaplan, staff writer, 18 January 1999
An Interview with Francis Jeffrey, a 1997 interview
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs