Novel Entanglements of Law and Technology
Chapter 5: Threats to fundamental rights in the onlife world
Before calculating a risk, you need to be aware of what threat you are facing. Moving to risk too soon and too fast has several drawbacks. One is that you may be taking the threats for granted and start translating what is perceived as a threat into discrete data points, just because it allows for sophisticated number crunching. This could lure you into skipping the stage of qualification and conceptualization that enables a reliable translation of perceived or expected threats into the objects and attributes of your data model. Qualification always precedes quantification, whether or not one is paying explicit attention to this. To calculate the monetary value that people attach to their privacy it does not suffice to offer them money for what you consider their privacy, for instance based on their willingness to share location data. Qualifying the sharing of location data in the context of a scientific experiment as privacy is a quick and easy way to construct data models, but I dare say it has little to do with what most people understand as giving up privacy in real life. You might actually end up constructing quantifiable solutions that resolve numerically defined problems in the dataset, whereas these solutions have no relation to the problems we need to resolve in the real world (whatever that is). Second, you may have missed non-obvious or invisible threats because they are not – yet – computable or – as yet – intractable.
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