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If somebody asked you, “Who owns your house?” you would probably say, “I do.” If they asked you, “Who owns your car?” you would say, “I do.”
But who owns you?
It’s a simple question at face value. We’re all about body autonomy in 2022, and most people would say that, of course, they own themselves. But what does that mean? What does it entail?
In the era of big data and artificial intelligence, ‘we’ are no longer just flesh and bone. Our identities are intertwined with terabytes of data: our social media profiles, our search engine habits, our digital possessions.
The food we order on Uber Eats, the books we borrow from Amazon, the music we stream on Spotify — all of it is collected and collated by corporations and governments in order to create a comprehensive profile of our likes, dislikes, and interests.
This data is incredibly valuable. Facebook, Google, and other tech giants make billions of dollars every year by selling access to our personal data. Governments are also interested in collecting and collating our data, often for nefarious reasons. In the UK, for example, the government was caught illegally collecting citizens’ Facebook data in order to target them with political ads.
So who owns this data? And what exactly can they do with it?
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