Access and Feeds

Privacy: Both Individual and Collective Rights are Stressed

By Dick Weisinger

Our phones and devices know where we are and what we’re doing. The data that data devices generate can be easily collected, tracked, and analyzed. This constant collection of data puts our privacy at risk, not just our privacy and identity as an individual, but also our privacy relative to the groups, organizations, and communities to which we belong and interact.

Ania Calderon, Executive Director of the Open Data Charter, said that “we tend to focus a lot on privacy when we talk about data, because that’s where it really hits the individual level. But it’s also important to talk about collective data rights, and the impacts that are societal… The more collective the harm, the less people are protected and the less visible it is. The more the harm is individual, the more visible its impacts are and the more people are legally protected. If a person is discriminated against because of protected characteristics such as their age, gender or ethnicity, it will be visible to them and they will hopefully be in a position to seek redress. When a person is discriminated against due to an algorithmic decision, it is likely to be less visible and, currently, hard to seek redress.”

Nick Bruhl, author at, wrote that “it is very difficult to tackle the systematic issues that cause the harm of collective data, as it is necessary to find a ‘perfect plaintiff’ who can prove the harm in order to file a proceeding.”

Martin Tisné, Managing Director at Luminate, wrote in an article titled The Data Illusion that “the collective nature of big data means people are more impacted by other people’s data than by data about them. Like climate change, the threat is societal and personal.”

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