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My Take

The US Constitution was written at a time when connectivity meant horses and carriages. The transcontinental railroad had just entered the radar screen, but its implications were never imagined. Reinterpreting the law in the context of today’s technological environment might be arduous and arbitrary. But it may be time to rethink our basic values and frame our analyses in a language of connections. Why do we want privacy, while simultaneously maintaining our right to freely trespass another’s attention with our words?


  • 1. According to a recent article in the Economist, 21 % of German youth, 47 % of British youth and 55 % of French youth, aged 18-29, favor government intervention [98]. Reporting spam has become the new normal on social media sites such as Facebook. Is it easier to write hate messages or are young people just becoming more intolerant?
  • 2. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union has two distinct conceptions of privacy. First, there is respect for private and family life and second, everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning themselves. The corollary to the second concept is the right to be forgotten.
  • 3. Metadata is a higher form of data, covering not simply the identity of individuals under surveillance, but the content of their communication, including names of third parties, who may be unrelated to the mission on hand and whose privacy is therefore being violated. This issue is at the heart of the debate over surveillance activities, foreign and domestic.
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