Friday, July 4, 2008

My representation in remote systems, the present

Warning: rant ahead....

I, the one represented, allow you, the receiver of information about me, needed to fulfill a service for me, to acquire and store indefinitely, some attributes describing me as an individual, in the hope you will record them accurately and use them solely for the purpose as intended in our agreed initial context.

From there on, I have no control over the system you use to store these records, describing me. Any subsequent change which I wish to effect (an act of self expression, creating my self representation) can only be realized with your consent. Any error or conscious mis-representation is not noticed by me directly. You can alter data representing me at will, thereby doing dishonor to my intentions, without me even knowing it happened. I am not consulted or notified if such change should occur.

I am powerless to express myself unless my intentions are reflected in your records. Once acquired, you value the recorded version, supposed to be representing me, above my subsequent direct communication of my intentions (as in, 'no sir, our computer says here bla bla bla'), even though I should be considered the ultimate authority in describing myself.

Even when it were entirely feasible and economical to consult me each and every time you need to acquire some information of me, you prefer to use the version in your system as it was recorded once in the past. That may be out of date, or not reflecting my current intentions in some way, but you don't really care. You don't verify or check at regular intervals with me. I can try and fix your records (which, for you, are the truth about me, but for me, they are not), but you might not let me, or you are incapable because of "call-center issues".

To make things worse, I have this issue with 200 different organizations, each treating me the same way as you did above, thus leaving me practically powerless to express my intentions across them all. (even a single one is hard, let alone 200). Such is the way I am reflected in society, through the eyes of the many organizations that deal with me: Disparate views, often not consistent, and not governed by my intentions. I am most incapable of expressing my desired representation in a consistent manner, such that it reflects the way I wish to be known. Where is the justice in that?

Oh and by the way, could you take more care with my data?

1 comment:

  1. Dear Pieter,
    We are on the same issue, once again! Remember me from the Breineconomie-episode?
    This issue of data ownership is important to me as a concerned citizen and internet user, but also since I'm working on an internet startup of my own.
    I would very much love to renew our contact. Could you drop me a line via my name at gmail.
    Ton Bil


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