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“What are we supposed to do to someone that holds, owns everyone?” asks Foggy in Marvel’s Daredevil. “You make them pay” is the response. It’s strangely appropriate that the question of property lies at the heart of Fairfield’s book. As I read the book, I found myself in agreement with many of the points shared.
Unfortunately, the solution didn’t seem as obvious as the problems. I’m looking forward to completing the book to find out what those solutions are. I invite you to join me.
In Joshua A.T. Fairfield‘s (@joshfairfield) book, Owned: Property, Privacy, and the New Digital Serfdom, he proposes 4 components as a way to escape device-based surveillance. Those components include:
- People have the right to modify their own property
- They can sell it to others, free and clear, when they are done with it
- They can use it and enjoy it free from the interference of others
- They can exclude others from using it without their consent
- Intro and Chapter 1
- This book is an attempt to tap the emotion of property, and to then channel that emotion through careful analysis of the current legal state of affairs surround the Internet of Things.
- The failure of property online is a failure of the legal imagination. Courts have failed to imagine how we can own Bitcoins, magic swords, MP3s, smartphones, autonomous cars, or drones the same way that we own land, houses, or the money in our wallets.
- Digital property suffers from a serious conflict with intellectual property
- …Apple can terminate access to your music collection, Amazon can delete books you purchased, and Google Play can make movies you bought vanish
- If we control our device, we control the stream of information flowing from them
- If we control digital houses, we can draw the digital curtains
- If we do not win this war–between the freedom model and the feudal mode–a few companies will own large tracts of digital assets and everyone else will be a digital peasant
- Consumers are dependent on a digital lord, who is dependent on a digital king
- Rightsholders don’t want you to be able to sell your used goods. They want each person who wants to buy a device, movie, music, book, and eventually car or house or mini-Segway footboard to have to come and buy a brand-new one from them. That is, they want to destroy our property interests in order to make more money in aftermarkets.
- The laws that have until now only governed music, movies, and software are coming to govern everyday life as sensors and software are seeded throughout our environment.
- Devices can record different parts of our life and algorithms meld the results together to get even more information than each data set would have alone.
- The linkage of devices serves as a unique identifier. The more devices we carry, the more it is likely that we are the only person in an area carrying that particular configuration, and the more data points about us the devices can independently corroborate.
- Big data algorithms then can combine information from both worn and encountered sensors to make broader deductions about me.
- Mobile devices follow us across all our contexts, to our club meetings, to rehab, to the doctor, to our parent-teacher conferences, to our homes, on our vacations, to our business meetings, and to the spa. Data drawn from this range of contexts are not just quantitatively greater, but qualitatively more exhaustive and intrusive than data from one context alone.
- The centralization of the license-server, intellectual property, cloud-based model of the Internet of Things compromises our ability to command data-enriched resources and control the devices we wear, carry, and encounter. We are degraded financially when we lose money, beaten at the economic game of poker by those who use our devices to see our cards. We are degraded emotionally as relationships of equality give way to centralized control. And we are degraded in terms of our ability to see ourselves as active agents, as people whose choices matter, when we are forced into specific uses (or abuses) of our own property by those who subvert it for their own profit. In short, we lose in every way.
- If we become digital tenants living at the mercy of digital landlords, we lose our ability to act on our own.
- We should be wary of a future in which our ability to express ourselves through control over and preservation of our environment is severely compromised due to the questionable economic claims of intellectual property rightsholders.
- …Create a right of privacy that travels with our property when we leave our homes, when we entrust it to those who have promised to keep our secrets, and even when we leave our smartphones unlocked….