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Why you can no longer get lost in the crowd

Source: Woodrow Hartzog & Evan Selinger, N.Y. Times (Paid Registration)

Lawmakers and industry leaders are missing the big picture. They are stuck on traditional concepts like “transparency,” “consent” and “secrecy,” which leads to proposals that reinforce broken mechanisms like consenting to unreadable terms of service. They are operating under the dangerous illusion that there’s a clear distinction between what’s public and what’s private. What about information about our everyday actions that is shared with some but not all?

Threats to our obscurity are growing because technology is making our personal information easy and cheap to aggregate, archive and interpret — with substantial growth in predictive analytics, too. To see what we mean, just look yourself up on the website MyLife and marvel at how much information has been cobbled together from different moments in your life for anyone to see at the click of a button.

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