“WSDL I sell my pictures from Backbone to a corporate entity? ” was the first question that came to my mind when I read this article. “Should I sell my pictures from Backbone to a corporate entity? “, “Should I be allowed to do so and should companies be legally allowed to buy them off me? ” were the set of questions that followed. The article titled ‘Consumers want rewards for use of personal data’ which appeared in the Businesses Daily on the 25th of June 2013 started a war of choice and rights in my mind.
I understand very well that individuals must be allowed the freedom of hooch when it comes to their ‘personal’ belongings. I also understand that they have the right to choose to do something as long as this choice has no harmful effects on someone else’s rights. Let us first discuss the absolute nature of right to choice. The argument of choice is never absolute. Reasonable restrictions exists in it; we are not allowed to murder someone, hit someone, say rude things about someone, commit suicide, live in someone else’s home or even go to parties uninvited, proving the fact that choice is not absolute.
The state ensures it guides individuals into making the eight choice in these cases by removing the choice in the first case. The law says murdering someone is not an option to anyone in the society and will thus punish you heavily if you do so. In the case of selling personal data as-well, given that the moral implications and harms are huge, companies must be forced to resist offers from individuals. Let us now discuss the harms.
We are talking about individuals selling their stories, pictures and moments of life for some sort of monetary value. Many of them might argue that individuals however share their opinions when they answer surveys or write essays for companies, but the idea in such cases is that the individual is answering the survey or essay with the specific purpose of sharing information and ideas. The ‘personal’ objects we are talking about in this case have been generated initially to act as memories or values for individuals.
Adding a commercial value to these objects only makes the individual now forget the true essence of personal identity and would drive people to work towards making money out of every single thing that they can see or think of. Trading human values for success, power or money has never led to anything good. Wars have been started because some individuals were ready to trade human values for power. Dowry is frowned upon because individuals realize that adding commercial value to marriages not only destroys the sanctity of marriage but also objectifies women to a large extent.
If personal data is allowed to be commercialese, companies would then start paying more for ‘beautiful’ pictures, pictures of ‘beautiful’ women, stories of women that have been raped or abused or stories of individuals with varied sexual orientations and all this because ‘it’ sells. These examples might seem stretched to any but one must realize that this is the precedence we are setting by allowing companies to buy off personal data. Many individuals are always looking for money and they would do anything to get money.
It is hard to ask these people to make a choice against selling their personal data when the option exists. The onus though is on the ‘Big Data’ dependent companies to ensure they do not allow individuals to commercialism their personal space. The moral implications of it are huge. In the age AT Logical marketing, data milling Is getting very competitive I . Nils does not mean Tanat impasses with large reserves must be allowed to buy off data from individuals that do not really understand the gravity in the decision made by them.
Privacy is a right that the state has a duty to protect and the companies must ensure their practices stick to the ethical rationale in this situation. Utilitarianism might be a legitimate argument but not in cases when the individuals do not understand fully the implications of utility they are generating. Ethics of rights and Justice in preserving dignity of individuals even if the individual wants to let go of this dignity must be taken as the highest moral ground to Judge these cases.