Professor Larry Downes states that in the Law of Disruption, “technology changes exponentially, but social, economic, and legal systems change incrementally.”
Our society has a privacy problem. Many businesses collect personal information from consumers using hundreds of tracking and collection devices. They not only know where you live and how many children you have, but also how fast you drive, your personality, sleep habits, biometric and health information, financial information, and precise geographic location—including if you visited a women’s health clinic.
We consent to terms of service(s) because today it is arguably impossible to know what exactly we are consenting to. Often, we have no choice but to click “agree” in order to function in our society. As a result, there is an expectation gap between what personal information we think businesses are collecting and how they are using it, and reality.
We have taken piecemeal steps to try to solve this problem through regulation including the California Consumer Privacy Act, which I worked on, and similar efforts in Vermont, Washington State, and Nevada to name a few. Europe has led the way with the GDPR. The U.S. Congress has introduced numerous bills, but to date proposed federal legislation has gone nowhere.
And although state regulations have forced businesses to make some pro privacy changes, they have equally been met with just criticisms: it’s too hard for individuals to exercise their rights, and it’s too easy for businesses to ignore them. Additionally, because technology evolves so quickly, regulations are already out of date before they go into effect.
Maybe a problem created by technology requires a solution also created by technology. A technological solution that gives people control over their privacy, that businesses can’t (and won’t want to) ignore, and that can be agile and adjust quickly to the problems that technology creates.
That would be OSOM.
Mary Stone Ross
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