Spying vs. stealing

Imagine Facebook had to pay you for using any information about you.

Instead of balancing "personal privacy" against some super-secret corporate imperative to profile you for the purposes of manipulating you, instead of that, your individual interests, and Facebook corporate interests, were perfectly aligned.

MV5BMTk4OTE2NjU1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzQ5MDQ1Ng@@._V1_SY317_CR46,0,214,317_You and Facebook were partners in the monetization of your information, your personality.

In short, your information was your intellectual property.

In the privacy paradigm, Facebook may or may not get the "balance" - between your interests and its commercial imperatives - exactly right, but Facebook alone controls all exclusive intellectual property rights.

In the personal-information-as-intellectual-property paradigm, Facebook must account to you for how your information is processed and exploited. No "balancing act" required; simple commercial reporting obligations ensure accountability.

If we thought about our information this way, and if our commercial relationships with large web services were built to meet such expectations, it would be harder for companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, etc., to cooperate with government requests for all the data that runs through the corporate servers.

"That data does not belong to us," they could say. Depending on their contract with customers, they might also say, "It is, however, available for a premium fee."

Some people might be willing to sell their information to the government in exchange for good and valuable consideration - say, a federal income tax credit. For some, maybe patriotism would be sufficient consideration.

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