It was the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution that ended slavery for African Americans, but in today’s digital age are we all in danger of becoming enslaved?
Even if you have never used a computer, bits and bytes and pieces of you are being stored in servers across the country — indeed, across the world.
You have little to say about it.
Increasingly, you have more and more businesses and organizations and governments holding onto parts of your digital DNA.
You cannot control much of what is done with it.
The question becomes, “Who owns you, baby?”
The simple answer is that you own yourself.
This is a fiction. Right now.
Parts of you are held by Google, by Facebook, by Twitter and Amazon and the list goes on and on. Not only do they own you, but their advertisers own you, and those who work for these companies and their affiliates can look into your strands of digital DNA left behind by every search, order, web site visit and click.
Shouldn’t you be able to own yourself? Or reclaim yourself? Oh, yes, you sign waivers and privacy statements and these companies and organizations and governments promise that your privacy is ensured — or not, depending on what you sign. Who reads that stuff anyway?
Shouldn’t you have the right to determine who is holding onto your digital DNA, just as any artist or performer or pop culture figure and many businesses can copyright and trademark certain things about themselves, including their intellectual property? Their images and likeness cannot be used without their permission and often without payment of royalties. At least the individuals get something out of the use of their persona, though they are just as subject as Sally Ordinary in having their digital DNA used for profit and gain.
The system is backwards.
As sovereign individuals, owned by ourselves, we should have the ability to turn the tables and begin charging access to our digital DNA, or to be able to opt out entirely. The latter seems a hopeless feat. It is too late for most of us to opt out. We are spread all over the world, caught in the quiet humming of stacked servers in cooled server barns.
Why can’t we regain control? Or some control?
Any information coming from the IP number of your computer, or separate ID number coded into a public computer before use, or information generated from any other electronic device, should not be free to Google, Facebook, Amazon and the rest.
These businesses and organizations have a ball and chain around our digital DNA. It goes around the world. It can be hacked. We can be put at real risk for even physical harm.
Technology is supposed to make us freer. In many ways it has, but deep down south, where our digital DNA is working in the fields of the Googles and Facebooks of the world, we are not free. We are slaves to whatever and wherever our digital DNA is held and used.
We need a not-for-profit organization to license our information; then we can sell our digital services to those who benefit. Google was built on your back. Same with the rest.
It is not yet at the point where we need an Amendment to the Constitution, but there may come a point where recognition of the sovereign digital individual is needed.