The Information Safety Deposit Box

Image by Krocker Klaus from Pixabay

At the turn of the twentieth century with economic conditions changing and a wave of invention spurring the rise of new kinds of corporate organizations with greater size and scope of operations, the US invented new institutions and framework to accommodate the massive shifts in power and resources. Writing in Salon Michael Malone and William Davidow make the case for a new kind of institution to protect our rights to our personal data in the age of quantified and networked human behavior.

They propose the creation of what they are calling information fiduciaries, organizations that would hold information on individuals and serve as a kind of personal information safety deposit box. The information held would only be released if the individual supplies a key to send the information to an intended recipient. While the fiduciaries would have the right to collect all of our personal information, we would have control over who might access it.

The proposal for information fiduciaries is interesting because it suggests the creation of new institutional forms and governance mechanisms as opposed to additional regulations from current institutions. The changes rippling throughout the world with the rise of networked information may require institutions such as the one proposed and others as well to address some of the negative consequences that are increasingly apparent.

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