Is Video Game Addiction a “Boy” Problem?

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Do boys have more trouble separating from video games than girls? It turns out that there’s now a solid body of research to draw on in answering that question. And it’s a question with immediate, practical implications for parents. As I write in JSTOR Daily:

I can only dream about getting my kid to hand over an iPhone without a struggle. Ditto for a tablet or laptop. And good luck getting my kid to wrap up a gaming session on the Xbox, Playstation, or Wii.

Well, one of my kids: the boy. Our daughter is far less likely to lose her tiny mind over the end of game time, and also, less likely to wake me up at 5 am in order to watch video games on YouTube, my son on the other hand, loves the www.dreamjackpot.com games.

When I commiserate with other tech-tortured parents, this seems to be a common pattern: yes, there are some girls who get really into video gaming, but it seems like it’s far more frequently an issue for little boys. Is this yet another case of parents making broad generalizations based on personal observation and preconceived notions about gender, or is there really a difference in how boys and girls game?

Read the whole story on JSTOR Daily.

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Is Media Piracy a Form of White Privilege?

Array ( [post_title] => Is Media Piracy a Form of White Privilege? [post_content] =>

A new colleague was touring me through his Boston home when I noticed the screen on his kitchen computer. “You’re a fellow Plex user!” I exclaimed with delight, surprised that he was geeky enough to know my favorite software for organizing a home media server. “But how come you’re only using it for music? Don’t you use it to manage your TV and movie downloads?”

“I don’t download videos,” he told me.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s illegal,” he reminded me.

Until that moment, I’d almost forgotten the legal status of “file sharing”—the technical term for one of the main ways internet users exchange copyrighted content without permission from the copyright holder. In our home we pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and a fat package of cable channels, but I’ve long preferred the convenience of watching downloaded shows through Plex to the hassle of setting up DVR recordings or trying to remember which series is available through which online service. I’m already paying for the content, I figure: Now I’m just choosing my preferred interface for consuming it.

But my colleague’s legal compliance made me take a second look at my scofflaw attitude. How had I so completely forgotten the legal context around media downloading while my colleague kept it top of mind?

Downloading While White

One obvious possibility jumped out at me: My colleague is a man of color, while I’m a white woman. After all, the impact of race on legal risk and risk perception is well documented. In “Youths’ Perceptions of Race, Class, and Language Bias in the Courts,” scholars Fayneese Miller and Erica Foster write that

Racial differences were found in the perception of minority versus nonminority youth in their perception of judges, attorneys, and court workers. A racial difference was also found in the way minority youth versus nonminority youth perceive court processes. The minority youth were more distrustful of court personnel and more negative in their perceptions of court processes than the nonminority youth.

These varying perceptions reflect significant racial disparities in how laws are made and how law-breakers are prosecuted. As political science scholars Kenneth Michael White and Mirya R. Holman note in their history of marijuana prohibition in California,

Scholars have found that if a drug is associated with racial and ethnic minorities, it is more likely to be considered dangerous and to be targeted for government restriction…For example, research on how restrictions of cocaine and opium use is dependent on the form of the drugs has demonstrated how the racial connections of a drug can lead to differentiation in the way the drug is regulated and enforced.

If racism has shaped how different forms of drug use have been criminalized and prosecuted, might it also affect which online activities are at least tacitly accepted, and which are actively prosecuted? As the American Journal of International Law reported in “Hate-Speech Protocol to Cybercrime Convention,”

On November 23, 2001, the Council of Europe and additional “observer” states, including the United States, signed the Convention on Cybercrime, the first international treaty in this field. Due largely to resistance by the United States, the final convention did not include certain provisions designed to eliminate racist Internet sites by defining and criminalizing “hate speech” on computer networks. A key objective of such provisions would have been to prevent “unlawful hosting,” whereby persons posting racist comments aimed at one state locate their Internet servers in another state with less strict hate-speech regulations.

What Drives Digital Piracy?

While American lawmakers thus ensured that the prevention of online hate speech would remain low on the cybercrime prevention agenda, American media companies have been hard at work keeping copyright protection and digital piracy front and center. In a thoughtful examination of digital piracy as cybercrime, criminal justice scholars Frances P. Bernat and David Makin ask whether this effort is truly legitimate—or even practical. As they argue,

we may be misdirecting our attention to prosecuting behaviors which in a new social environment are not viewed by its primary consumers to be, and maybe should not be deemed, criminal. The continual advance of high-speed connections, cloud based architectures for file storage, and increasing marketization of media will further simplify new cyber-behaviors. These technological advances will make distinctions between legal and criminal behavior unclear. In this regard, Internet users may be increasingly uncertain of what constitutes piracy.

There’s a romantic appeal to imagining that many content downloaders are simply ignorant of the laws around piracy, rather than too privileged to worry about them. But research into the motivations of software and media pirates suggests something else is at work: money. In surveying college students on their attitudes towards pirated content, scholars Sulaiman Al-Rafee and Timothy Paul Cronan found that attitudes were strongly influenced by whether “subjects believed that they could save money by pirating digital media. Another related and significant salient belief was that subjects believed that digital media is overpriced.”

Want more stories like this one?

[contact-form-7]

The available data on race and “copy culture”—the preferred term among those who regard content sharing as legitimate, rather than criminal—further undermines the theory that torrenting is yet another form of white privilege. A 2012 analysis from Columbia University’s American Assembly found that black and white Americans had broadly similar attitudes towards music piracy, while Hispanics were somewhat more tolerant. And while Al-Rafee and Cronan found that “older subjects have a lower (less favorable) attitude towards digital piracy than younger subjects”, the American Assembly study found that downloading is more common among blacks and Hispanics over 30 than it is among over-30 whites. (There were no significant differences in downloading behavior among whites, blacks and Hispanics aged 18 to 29.)

If this data provides a reasonable basis for dismissing the possibility that torrenting is an expression of white privilege—the ability to overlook legal risks, on- or offline—it also underlines exactly why it’s important to ask the question. The very fact that there are differences in the rates of media piracy among different ethnic groups refutes one of the internet’s persistent, foundational myths: the romantic idea that the digital world is a place where attributes like race, gender, and age are rendered invisible and irrelevant.

But the more complicated truth is that even if our offline characteristics are (sometimes) invisible online, they still shape the way we experience the internet’s joys, risks, and conflicts. It’s less frightening to express yourself online when you aren’t worried that your tweet or photo or blog post might invite a racist or misogynistic backlash. It’s easier to snap up that eBay deal or Kickstarter offer when you’re already affluent. It’s less daunting to engage in online activities that carry some risk—whether that’s torrenting or online activism—if your offline identity allows you to assume that the justice system is basically on your side.

Asking how our offline identities enable or preclude different kinds of online experiences is an essential part of being a responsible online citizen. Sometimes those inquiries may reveal remarkable commonalities, as with the discovery that torrenting is equally common among young people of different ethnicities. But just as often, and more crucially, simply asking the question will open our eyes and our minds to the online impact of our offline privilege.  The more carefully we consider and address the ways that our offline identities affect our online lives, the better the chance of creating an online world in which we transcend rather than replicate offline inequities.

The post Is Media Piracy a Form of White Privilege? appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_excerpt] =>

How users feel about illegal downloading may have a lot to do with privilege.

The post Is Media Piracy a Form of White Privilege? appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-18 12:29:36 [post_date] => 2018-09-18 05:29:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-18 12:29:36 [post_modified] => 2018-09-18 05:29:36 [post_status] => draft [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => open [guid] => https://daily.jstor.org/?p=65618 [meta] => Array ( [enclosure] => Array ( [0] => ) [syndication_source] => The Digital Voyage – JSTOR Daily [syndication_source_uri] => https://daily.jstor.org [syndication_source_id] => https://daily.jstor.org/column/the-digital-voyage/feed/ [syndication_feed] => https://daily.jstor.org/column/the-digital-voyage/feed/ [syndication_feed_id] => 71 [syndication_permalink] => https://daily.jstor.org/is-media-piracy-a-form-of-white-privilege/ [syndication_item_hash] => Array ( [0] => 4aaa26244809d952febf9183f054da6f [1] => 32bd12398f0291da9c6f7dc90d5be40d ) ) [post_type] => clippings [post_author] => 1180 [tax_input] => Array ( [category] => Array ( ) [post_tag] => Array ( [0] => 9 [1] => 1109 ) [post_format] => Array ( ) ) )

Decide filter: Returning post, everything seems orderly :Is Media Piracy a Form of White Privilege?

Array ( [post_title] => Is Media Piracy a Form of White Privilege? [post_content] =>

A new colleague was touring me through his Boston home when I noticed the screen on his kitchen computer. “You’re a fellow Plex user!” I exclaimed with delight, surprised that he was geeky enough to know my favorite software for organizing a home media server. “But how come you’re only using it for music? Don’t you use it to manage your TV and movie downloads?”

“I don’t download videos,” he told me.

“Why not?”

“Because it’s illegal,” he reminded me.

Until that moment, I’d almost forgotten the legal status of “file sharing”—the technical term for one of the main ways internet users exchange copyrighted content without permission from the copyright holder. In our home we pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and a fat package of cable channels, but I’ve long preferred the convenience of watching downloaded shows through Plex to the hassle of setting up DVR recordings or trying to remember which series is available through which online service. I’m already paying for the content, I figure: Now I’m just choosing my preferred interface for consuming it.

But my colleague’s legal compliance made me take a second look at my scofflaw attitude. How had I so completely forgotten the legal context around media downloading while my colleague kept it top of mind?

Downloading While White

One obvious possibility jumped out at me: My colleague is a man of color, while I’m a white woman. After all, the impact of race on legal risk and risk perception is well documented. In “Youths’ Perceptions of Race, Class, and Language Bias in the Courts,” scholars Fayneese Miller and Erica Foster write that

Racial differences were found in the perception of minority versus nonminority youth in their perception of judges, attorneys, and court workers. A racial difference was also found in the way minority youth versus nonminority youth perceive court processes. The minority youth were more distrustful of court personnel and more negative in their perceptions of court processes than the nonminority youth.

These varying perceptions reflect significant racial disparities in how laws are made and how law-breakers are prosecuted. As political science scholars Kenneth Michael White and Mirya R. Holman note in their history of marijuana prohibition in California,

Scholars have found that if a drug is associated with racial and ethnic minorities, it is more likely to be considered dangerous and to be targeted for government restriction…For example, research on how restrictions of cocaine and opium use is dependent on the form of the drugs has demonstrated how the racial connections of a drug can lead to differentiation in the way the drug is regulated and enforced.

If racism has shaped how different forms of drug use have been criminalized and prosecuted, might it also affect which online activities are at least tacitly accepted, and which are actively prosecuted? As the American Journal of International Law reported in “Hate-Speech Protocol to Cybercrime Convention,”

On November 23, 2001, the Council of Europe and additional “observer” states, including the United States, signed the Convention on Cybercrime, the first international treaty in this field. Due largely to resistance by the United States, the final convention did not include certain provisions designed to eliminate racist Internet sites by defining and criminalizing “hate speech” on computer networks. A key objective of such provisions would have been to prevent “unlawful hosting,” whereby persons posting racist comments aimed at one state locate their Internet servers in another state with less strict hate-speech regulations.

What Drives Digital Piracy?

While American lawmakers thus ensured that the prevention of online hate speech would remain low on the cybercrime prevention agenda, American media companies have been hard at work keeping copyright protection and digital piracy front and center. In a thoughtful examination of digital piracy as cybercrime, criminal justice scholars Frances P. Bernat and David Makin ask whether this effort is truly legitimate—or even practical. As they argue,

we may be misdirecting our attention to prosecuting behaviors which in a new social environment are not viewed by its primary consumers to be, and maybe should not be deemed, criminal. The continual advance of high-speed connections, cloud based architectures for file storage, and increasing marketization of media will further simplify new cyber-behaviors. These technological advances will make distinctions between legal and criminal behavior unclear. In this regard, Internet users may be increasingly uncertain of what constitutes piracy.

There’s a romantic appeal to imagining that many content downloaders are simply ignorant of the laws around piracy, rather than too privileged to worry about them. But research into the motivations of software and media pirates suggests something else is at work: money. In surveying college students on their attitudes towards pirated content, scholars Sulaiman Al-Rafee and Timothy Paul Cronan found that attitudes were strongly influenced by whether “subjects believed that they could save money by pirating digital media. Another related and significant salient belief was that subjects believed that digital media is overpriced.”

Want more stories like this one?

[contact-form-7]

The available data on race and “copy culture”—the preferred term among those who regard content sharing as legitimate, rather than criminal—further undermines the theory that torrenting is yet another form of white privilege. A 2012 analysis from Columbia University’s American Assembly found that black and white Americans had broadly similar attitudes towards music piracy, while Hispanics were somewhat more tolerant. And while Al-Rafee and Cronan found that “older subjects have a lower (less favorable) attitude towards digital piracy than younger subjects”, the American Assembly study found that downloading is more common among blacks and Hispanics over 30 than it is among over-30 whites. (There were no significant differences in downloading behavior among whites, blacks and Hispanics aged 18 to 29.)

If this data provides a reasonable basis for dismissing the possibility that torrenting is an expression of white privilege—the ability to overlook legal risks, on- or offline—it also underlines exactly why it’s important to ask the question. The very fact that there are differences in the rates of media piracy among different ethnic groups refutes one of the internet’s persistent, foundational myths: the romantic idea that the digital world is a place where attributes like race, gender, and age are rendered invisible and irrelevant.

But the more complicated truth is that even if our offline characteristics are (sometimes) invisible online, they still shape the way we experience the internet’s joys, risks, and conflicts. It’s less frightening to express yourself online when you aren’t worried that your tweet or photo or blog post might invite a racist or misogynistic backlash. It’s easier to snap up that eBay deal or Kickstarter offer when you’re already affluent. It’s less daunting to engage in online activities that carry some risk—whether that’s torrenting or online activism—if your offline identity allows you to assume that the justice system is basically on your side.

Asking how our offline identities enable or preclude different kinds of online experiences is an essential part of being a responsible online citizen. Sometimes those inquiries may reveal remarkable commonalities, as with the discovery that torrenting is equally common among young people of different ethnicities. But just as often, and more crucially, simply asking the question will open our eyes and our minds to the online impact of our offline privilege.  The more carefully we consider and address the ways that our offline identities affect our online lives, the better the chance of creating an online world in which we transcend rather than replicate offline inequities.

The post Is Media Piracy a Form of White Privilege? appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_excerpt] =>

How users feel about illegal downloading may have a lot to do with privilege.

The post Is Media Piracy a Form of White Privilege? appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_date_gmt] => 2018-09-18 12:29:36 [post_date] => 2018-09-18 05:29:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-09-18 12:29:36 [post_modified] => 2018-09-18 05:29:36 [post_status] => draft [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => open [guid] => https://daily.jstor.org/?p=65618 [meta] => Array ( [enclosure] => Array ( [0] => ) [syndication_source] => The Digital Voyage – JSTOR Daily [syndication_source_uri] => https://daily.jstor.org [syndication_source_id] => https://daily.jstor.org/column/the-digital-voyage/feed/ [syndication_feed] => https://daily.jstor.org/column/the-digital-voyage/feed/ [syndication_feed_id] => 71 [syndication_permalink] => https://daily.jstor.org/is-media-piracy-a-form-of-white-privilege/ [syndication_item_hash] => Array ( [0] => 4aaa26244809d952febf9183f054da6f [1] => 32bd12398f0291da9c6f7dc90d5be40d ) ) [post_type] => clippings [post_author] => 1180 [tax_input] => Array ( [category] => Array ( ) [post_tag] => Array ( [0] => 9 [1] => 1109 ) [post_format] => Array ( ) ) )

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The Future of Forgiveness Is Online

Array ( [post_title] => The Future of Forgiveness Is Online [post_content] =>

I know how to nurse a grudge. I could still tell you the names of the classmate who tortured me in fifth grade, the professor who yelled at me during a grad school seminar, and the client who skipped on a bill a decade ago. I could tell you exactly who said what, and why, and where, and most importantly, I could provide you with the list of imagined (if unexecuted) revenge plots I have conjured for each one of these grievances.

Depending on your philosophical outlook, this might seem like a talent, a skill or an affliction. All I know is that neither therapy nor meditation nor a few dozen self-improvement books have managed to erase this particular habit.

Nonetheless, I have found one personal rule that keeps my grudge-holding in check: Once I have forgotten the details of the original offence, I strictly forbid myself from maintaining my grudge. I may not be much good at forgive and forget, but once I forget, I require myself to forgive.

Thanks to the internet, however, I fear that forgetfulness is no longer a spiritual hall pass. How forgiving can any of us be, now that the internet logs all our online misdeeds forever?

I’m not just talking about flame wars or insensitive Facebook comments; I’m talking about the ever-growing number of conflicts and failings that are forever memorialized online. You know what I mean: The string of apologetic “I’ll be there in 5 minutes!” texts that testify to your BFF’s inability to meet up on time. The YouTube video that captures a particularly dramatic child or adult tantrum. The book that failed to acknowledge your contributions before it disappears from print…only to reappear in Google’s book archives. How can we let bygones be bygones when we can no longer count on them actually going by?

It’s tempting to add Google to my list of grudges and blame it for our diminishing capacity for forgiveness. But dig a little deeper into the relationship between technology, memory, and forgiveness, and it’s not so clear that the days of forgiveness are actually behind us.

The Internet Sometimes Forgets

For one thing, it turns out that the internet’s ability to remember everything is somewhat overstated. As Wendy Hui Kyong Chun points out in “The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future Is a Memory,” “Digital media is not always there. We suffer daily frustrations with digital sources that just disappear. Digital media is degenerative, forgetful, eraseable.”

Indeed, digital media is so prone to disappearance that we have the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (IWM), a website specifically designed to archive the ever-disappearing Internet. What Chun refers to as the “Internet’s Wayback Machine (IWM)”

fixes the internet by offering us a “machine” that lets us control our movement between past and future by regenerating the internet on a grand scale. The IWM is appropriate in more ways than one; because webpages link to, rather than embed, images, which can be located anywhere, and because link locations always change, the IWM preserves only a skeleton of a page, filled with broken—rendered—links and images.

To the imperfections of media storage and the gaps in the Wayback Machine, let me add another source of online forgetfulness: the emergence of a legal “right to be forgotten.” Particularly in the European Union, emergent case law and policy has moved us towards a world in which technology’s theoretical capacity to remember everything is mitigated by an explicit commitment to the power of forgetting.

As Meg Leta Ambrose and Jef Ausloos note in “The Right to Be Forgotten Across the Pond,” this right has emerged in direct response to legal cases that reflect the very tangible ways eternal online memory affects our lives:

In an age when “You are what Google says you are,” expecting parents search prospective names to help their children retrieve top search results. Only a few rare parents hope their children can be “lost in a virtual crowd,” even in light of the pressure that comes with the accepted notion that “Life, it seems, begins not at birth but with online conception… and a child’s name is the link to that permanent record.” In short, the search results for an individual’s name have significant ramifications. One’s digital history may impact the opportunities offered, the reputation one maintains, and the self one embodies.

The “Google Effect” Makes us More Forgetful

And of course, one’s digital history may also impact whether people are prepared to forgive you for your misdeeds—particularly if those people include chronic grudge-nursers like me. But Google brings us some good news here, too, because it turns out that a world with Google is a world in which people just aren’t as good at remembering.

In “How Google Is Changing Your Brain,” Daniel M. Wegner and Adrian F. Ward dub this the “Google Effect”, writing that

It may be that the Internet is taking the place not just of other people as external sources of memory but also of our own cognitive faculties. The Internet may not only eliminate the need for a partner with whom to share information—it may also undermine the impulse to ensure that some important, just learned facts get inscribed into our biological memory banks.

While Google Effect hasn’t erased my memories of pre-internet offences, it may be that our minds will be less likely to record and nurse grievances now that we are getting in the habit of outsourcing memory to the cloud. As Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu, and Daniel M. Wegner put it in “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips,” “[w]e are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found.” If at some level we trust Google to remind us why we’re angry at someone, we can allow ourselves to release that reason from our own minds.

The Difference Between Forgive and Forget

Lest you think that the Google Effect is thus a passport to forgiveness, however, it’s worth reflecting on the fundamental relationship between forgetting and forgiveness. As Oliver Hallich maps out in “Can the Paradox of Forgiveness Be Dissolved?

Forgiving is one of the many ways we have of responding to acts of wrongdoing. It is often defined as “the forswearing of negative emotions, on moral grounds, that have been occasioned when one has been wronged by another person”, where the term “negative emotions” refers to a wide range of emotions such as annoyance, disappointment, resentment, anger, loathing, contempt, indignation and hatred….[I]nsofar as forgiving involves “the forswearing of negative emotions”, it, in contrast to forgetting, is something we do, not something that merely happens to us. It requires that the forgiver decides to forswear resentment, and it is done for a reason.

Sadly, there is no app for that. No service can take on the hard work of forgiving, even if relying on Google can teach us to forget. Forgiveness is hard work, and it’s human work: the work of deliberately giving up a grudge and choosing to release the negative emotions that go with it.

The Art of the Online Apology

But perhaps there is a way that technology can help with this most human of tasks. As Karen A. Cerulo and Janet M. Ruane document in the fascinating “Apologies of the Rich and Famous: Cultural, Cognitive, and Social Explanations of Why We Care and Why We Forgive,” apologies have an enormous impact on the capacity for forgiveness, at least when it comes to celebrity transgressions: “The apology becomes a way of reconciling and repairing important social relations, of convincing an audience to forgive and forget.”

But not all apologies are equally effective: according to Cerulo and Ruane, the apologies that are mostly likely to yield forgiveness are “mortification” apologies in which “offenders unequivocally admit shame and guilt and explicitly ask the public for forgiveness.”

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In the pre-internet world, it was only celebrities and politicians who had to deliver this kind of public apology; who had to practice the art of earning forgiveness for a public misdeed. But in a time when any of us can have a thoughtless remark permanently inscribed in Google, however unpredictably or imperfectly, any and all of us need to learn how to say we’re sorry.

We can do it in just the way that Cerulo and Ruane prescribe. In their semantic analysis of public apologies and the accompanying polling data indicating levels of public forgiveness, it turns out that apologies are most likely to lead to forgiveness when they focus on the victim rather than the offender, and when they’re sequenced in a way that keeps the victim’s experience front and centre. As an example of an ideal apology they cite (and annotate) Oprah Winfrey’s 2009 apology to the actress Robin Givens for allowing Mike Tyson, Given’s ex-husband, to joke about his history of abuse:

I would say to you and to every woman who’s ever been hit . . . [victims]…I feel that I did not handle that as well as I should have. And I feel that I could have gone further and should have said more to clarify that what he was doing and what he was saying was wrong. So I apologize to you and to every woman who has ever been in that situation [remorse].

In a world in which we all leave a permanent record, we all need to learn the art of delivering a public apology that combines an expression of remorse or mortification with a narrative that keeps the victim at the centre of our apology. We can and should use that formula when we make a mistake online, like sending a hostile email or posting something insensitive on Facebook or Twitter. But we can and should also keep it in reserve for the inevitable and numerous situations in which we hurt or offend people offline in ways that Google may preclude forgetting.

The Future of Forgiveness

The possibility that the internet can actually support the interrelated processes of apologizing, forgiving, and even forgetting is a useful rejoinder to the perpetual fretting over the permanence of our digital footprints. True, we can no longer count on our past misdeeds disappearing from view, either online or offline. But it’s that very unpredictability that creates both the necessity and the possibility for true forgiveness, by challenging us to cultivate not only the skill of apologizing but the skill of letting go.

And if you’re not quite ready to embrace the internet’s potential for fostering this most human of skills, it’s okay. I forgive you.

The post The Future of Forgiveness Is Online appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_excerpt] =>

When our flame wars, insensitive Facebook comments, and rude texts are catalogued online indefinitely, can we still forgive and forget?

The post The Future of Forgiveness Is Online appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_date_gmt] => 2018-08-14 11:00:50 [post_date] => 2018-08-14 04:00:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-08-14 11:00:50 [post_modified] => 2018-08-14 04:00:50 [post_status] => draft [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => open [guid] => https://daily.jstor.org/?p=60056 [meta] => Array ( [enclosure] => Array ( [0] => ) [syndication_source] => The Digital Voyage – JSTOR Daily [syndication_source_uri] => https://daily.jstor.org [syndication_source_id] => https://daily.jstor.org/column/the-digital-voyage/feed/ [syndication_feed] => https://daily.jstor.org/column/the-digital-voyage/feed/ [syndication_feed_id] => 71 [syndication_permalink] => https://daily.jstor.org/the-future-of-forgiveness-is-online/ [syndication_item_hash] => Array ( [0] => 60ab03031c3dc8d195b5384650e5f799 [1] => 6d66ff9bee19ef18609eaad851fd1cb0 ) ) [post_type] => clippings [post_author] => 1180 [tax_input] => Array ( [category] => Array ( [0] => 1741 ) [post_tag] => Array ( [0] => 9 [1] => 1109 [2] => 1134 ) [post_format] => Array ( ) ) )

Decide filter: Returning post, everything seems orderly :The Future of Forgiveness Is Online

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I know how to nurse a grudge. I could still tell you the names of the classmate who tortured me in fifth grade, the professor who yelled at me during a grad school seminar, and the client who skipped on a bill a decade ago. I could tell you exactly who said what, and why, and where, and most importantly, I could provide you with the list of imagined (if unexecuted) revenge plots I have conjured for each one of these grievances.

Depending on your philosophical outlook, this might seem like a talent, a skill or an affliction. All I know is that neither therapy nor meditation nor a few dozen self-improvement books have managed to erase this particular habit.

Nonetheless, I have found one personal rule that keeps my grudge-holding in check: Once I have forgotten the details of the original offence, I strictly forbid myself from maintaining my grudge. I may not be much good at forgive and forget, but once I forget, I require myself to forgive.

Thanks to the internet, however, I fear that forgetfulness is no longer a spiritual hall pass. How forgiving can any of us be, now that the internet logs all our online misdeeds forever?

I’m not just talking about flame wars or insensitive Facebook comments; I’m talking about the ever-growing number of conflicts and failings that are forever memorialized online. You know what I mean: The string of apologetic “I’ll be there in 5 minutes!” texts that testify to your BFF’s inability to meet up on time. The YouTube video that captures a particularly dramatic child or adult tantrum. The book that failed to acknowledge your contributions before it disappears from print…only to reappear in Google’s book archives. How can we let bygones be bygones when we can no longer count on them actually going by?

It’s tempting to add Google to my list of grudges and blame it for our diminishing capacity for forgiveness. But dig a little deeper into the relationship between technology, memory, and forgiveness, and it’s not so clear that the days of forgiveness are actually behind us.

The Internet Sometimes Forgets

For one thing, it turns out that the internet’s ability to remember everything is somewhat overstated. As Wendy Hui Kyong Chun points out in “The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future Is a Memory,” “Digital media is not always there. We suffer daily frustrations with digital sources that just disappear. Digital media is degenerative, forgetful, eraseable.”

Indeed, digital media is so prone to disappearance that we have the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine (IWM), a website specifically designed to archive the ever-disappearing Internet. What Chun refers to as the “Internet’s Wayback Machine (IWM)”

fixes the internet by offering us a “machine” that lets us control our movement between past and future by regenerating the internet on a grand scale. The IWM is appropriate in more ways than one; because webpages link to, rather than embed, images, which can be located anywhere, and because link locations always change, the IWM preserves only a skeleton of a page, filled with broken—rendered—links and images.

To the imperfections of media storage and the gaps in the Wayback Machine, let me add another source of online forgetfulness: the emergence of a legal “right to be forgotten.” Particularly in the European Union, emergent case law and policy has moved us towards a world in which technology’s theoretical capacity to remember everything is mitigated by an explicit commitment to the power of forgetting.

As Meg Leta Ambrose and Jef Ausloos note in “The Right to Be Forgotten Across the Pond,” this right has emerged in direct response to legal cases that reflect the very tangible ways eternal online memory affects our lives:

In an age when “You are what Google says you are,” expecting parents search prospective names to help their children retrieve top search results. Only a few rare parents hope their children can be “lost in a virtual crowd,” even in light of the pressure that comes with the accepted notion that “Life, it seems, begins not at birth but with online conception… and a child’s name is the link to that permanent record.” In short, the search results for an individual’s name have significant ramifications. One’s digital history may impact the opportunities offered, the reputation one maintains, and the self one embodies.

The “Google Effect” Makes us More Forgetful

And of course, one’s digital history may also impact whether people are prepared to forgive you for your misdeeds—particularly if those people include chronic grudge-nursers like me. But Google brings us some good news here, too, because it turns out that a world with Google is a world in which people just aren’t as good at remembering.

In “How Google Is Changing Your Brain,” Daniel M. Wegner and Adrian F. Ward dub this the “Google Effect”, writing that

It may be that the Internet is taking the place not just of other people as external sources of memory but also of our own cognitive faculties. The Internet may not only eliminate the need for a partner with whom to share information—it may also undermine the impulse to ensure that some important, just learned facts get inscribed into our biological memory banks.

While Google Effect hasn’t erased my memories of pre-internet offences, it may be that our minds will be less likely to record and nurse grievances now that we are getting in the habit of outsourcing memory to the cloud. As Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu, and Daniel M. Wegner put it in “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips,” “[w]e are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found.” If at some level we trust Google to remind us why we’re angry at someone, we can allow ourselves to release that reason from our own minds.

The Difference Between Forgive and Forget

Lest you think that the Google Effect is thus a passport to forgiveness, however, it’s worth reflecting on the fundamental relationship between forgetting and forgiveness. As Oliver Hallich maps out in “Can the Paradox of Forgiveness Be Dissolved?

Forgiving is one of the many ways we have of responding to acts of wrongdoing. It is often defined as “the forswearing of negative emotions, on moral grounds, that have been occasioned when one has been wronged by another person”, where the term “negative emotions” refers to a wide range of emotions such as annoyance, disappointment, resentment, anger, loathing, contempt, indignation and hatred….[I]nsofar as forgiving involves “the forswearing of negative emotions”, it, in contrast to forgetting, is something we do, not something that merely happens to us. It requires that the forgiver decides to forswear resentment, and it is done for a reason.

Sadly, there is no app for that. No service can take on the hard work of forgiving, even if relying on Google can teach us to forget. Forgiveness is hard work, and it’s human work: the work of deliberately giving up a grudge and choosing to release the negative emotions that go with it.

The Art of the Online Apology

But perhaps there is a way that technology can help with this most human of tasks. As Karen A. Cerulo and Janet M. Ruane document in the fascinating “Apologies of the Rich and Famous: Cultural, Cognitive, and Social Explanations of Why We Care and Why We Forgive,” apologies have an enormous impact on the capacity for forgiveness, at least when it comes to celebrity transgressions: “The apology becomes a way of reconciling and repairing important social relations, of convincing an audience to forgive and forget.”

But not all apologies are equally effective: according to Cerulo and Ruane, the apologies that are mostly likely to yield forgiveness are “mortification” apologies in which “offenders unequivocally admit shame and guilt and explicitly ask the public for forgiveness.”

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In the pre-internet world, it was only celebrities and politicians who had to deliver this kind of public apology; who had to practice the art of earning forgiveness for a public misdeed. But in a time when any of us can have a thoughtless remark permanently inscribed in Google, however unpredictably or imperfectly, any and all of us need to learn how to say we’re sorry.

We can do it in just the way that Cerulo and Ruane prescribe. In their semantic analysis of public apologies and the accompanying polling data indicating levels of public forgiveness, it turns out that apologies are most likely to lead to forgiveness when they focus on the victim rather than the offender, and when they’re sequenced in a way that keeps the victim’s experience front and centre. As an example of an ideal apology they cite (and annotate) Oprah Winfrey’s 2009 apology to the actress Robin Givens for allowing Mike Tyson, Given’s ex-husband, to joke about his history of abuse:

I would say to you and to every woman who’s ever been hit . . . [victims]…I feel that I did not handle that as well as I should have. And I feel that I could have gone further and should have said more to clarify that what he was doing and what he was saying was wrong. So I apologize to you and to every woman who has ever been in that situation [remorse].

In a world in which we all leave a permanent record, we all need to learn the art of delivering a public apology that combines an expression of remorse or mortification with a narrative that keeps the victim at the centre of our apology. We can and should use that formula when we make a mistake online, like sending a hostile email or posting something insensitive on Facebook or Twitter. But we can and should also keep it in reserve for the inevitable and numerous situations in which we hurt or offend people offline in ways that Google may preclude forgetting.

The Future of Forgiveness

The possibility that the internet can actually support the interrelated processes of apologizing, forgiving, and even forgetting is a useful rejoinder to the perpetual fretting over the permanence of our digital footprints. True, we can no longer count on our past misdeeds disappearing from view, either online or offline. But it’s that very unpredictability that creates both the necessity and the possibility for true forgiveness, by challenging us to cultivate not only the skill of apologizing but the skill of letting go.

And if you’re not quite ready to embrace the internet’s potential for fostering this most human of skills, it’s okay. I forgive you.

The post The Future of Forgiveness Is Online appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_excerpt] =>

When our flame wars, insensitive Facebook comments, and rude texts are catalogued online indefinitely, can we still forgive and forget?

The post The Future of Forgiveness Is Online appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

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What Roe v. Wade Means for Internet Privacy

Array ( [post_title] => What Roe v. Wade Means for Internet Privacy [post_content] =>

The impending retirement of Justice Kennedy and the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh mean that Roe v. Wade is once again making headlines. But this time, it’s not just abortion rights advocates who should be thinking about the future of that particular Supreme Court decision: It’s just as crucial to people who care about their freedom, autonomy, and privacy online.

Audio brought to you by curio.io

Privacy and Roe v. Wade

That’s because not only abortion rights but internet rights owe an enormous debt to the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. It was in Roe v. Wade that Justice Harry Blackmun articulated privacy as the basis for abortion rights—laying the foundation not only for safe and legal abortion, but also for a new way of thinking about privacy that would inform the emergent internet.

In “A Justice Defined by a Ruling,” Henry J. Reske notes that Roe v. Wade

perhaps more than any single ruling, has enshrined in the American consciousness the notion of a right to privacy, or as Justice Louis D. Brandeis put it in the 1928 dissent to Olmstead v. United States, the “right to be let alone.” …Roe represents the completion of a quest begun by the Court in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 when it first sought to define a right to privacy.…Roe clearly established that there is a 14th Amendment due process right to privacy, a right that Blackmun, in the 7-2 ruling, extended to cover abortion.

The impact of this decision reached far beyond the legal status of abortion: it changed the conversations around both abortion and privacy. “Privacy was not absent from public discourse about abortion prior to Roe, but it looked nothing like the conception of privacy familiar to us in contemporary abortion politics,” Vincent Vecera wrote in the 2014 article, “The Supreme Court and the Social Conception of Abortion.” “Where reform advocates talked about privacy before Roe, they almost always talked about the privacy afforded any medical decision….The transformation of traditional medical privacy into novel legal conceptions of privacy—personal privacy, personal choice, and personal autonomy—began prior to and partially alongside the broader trend toward the de-medicalization of abortion.”

Roe v. Wade transformed American attitudes towards privacy as surely as it transformed the conversation around abortion. As Vecera observes, “The justices of the Supreme Court influence politics beyond their ability to execute policy.”

Privacy as a Constitutional Right

In the case of privacy rights, Roe v. Wade enshrined privacy as a constitutional right—but one that was left a bit hazy. “Judges as well as scholars assumed that there was such a thing as privacy and that it mattered,” David Alan Slansky writes in his 2014 article, “Too Much Information: How Not to Think About Privacy and the Fourth Amendment.”  “[T]he legal debate was simply about how much and what kind of protection privacy received.”

That haziness notwithstanding, Roe v. Wade left Americans with the idea that privacy is something we can expect as citizens. There’s no better proof of that growing consensus than the 1987 Senate confirmation fight over Robert Bork, nominated by Ronald Reagan to the Supreme Court. Bork faced an immediate backlash for past statements in which he not only expressed his disdain for the Roe decision, but his skepticism about the very idea of a constitutional right to privacy.

“By the time Bork’s own five days of testimony were complete, it was utterly clear that his public image as an unyielding foe of constitutional privacy had become perhaps the single greatest negative in spoiling his chances for Senate confirmation,” David J. Garrow writes in “Privacy and the American Constitution,” which delves deeply into the Bork nomination and its aftermath. “[A]s any number of subsequent public opinion polls confirm, the American mass public has no doubt or hesitation whatsoever that the United States Constitution should be read to encompass a very basic, very fundamental, and very inclusive right to privacy.”

When Bork’s nomination collapsed, Reagan instead nominated Anthony Kennedy—yes, the Anthony Kennedy whose imminent retirement has pro-choice supporters worried about Roe again. As Garrow notes, Kennedy “carefully told the senators that he believed ‘that the concept of liberty in the due process clause is quite expansive, quite sufficient, to protect the values of privacy that Americans legitimately think are part of their constitutional heritage.’”

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A belief in a constitutional right to privacy was now a de facto requirement for a post-Roe Supreme Court nominee. But the debate over privacy was far from over.

First, the very fact that privacy came to the fore in the context of abortion arguably exposed the idea of a right to privacy to extra scrutiny and criticism from the right and left, and from both academics and lay people. Writing about “Privacy Without the Right to Privacy,” Scott A. Anderson notes that it is  “commonplace to regard the concept of privacy as a mess, and to hold that significant work is needed to show its coherence as a concept, if it can be done at all. Some have also argued that there may not be a right to privacy, or that if there is, it must be much narrower than it has recently been construed.” As Garrow puts it, “there was a sense by the mid-1970s—especially, but not only, among scholars and judges opposed to the rulings in Griswold, Eisenstadt, and Roe—that the concept of privacy had been stretched too far in those cases.”

Second, the women’s movement quickly realized that privacy was a problematic basis for abortion rights, and tried to move the conversation beyond its nebulous foundation. In her article “Gender and Privacy in Cyberspace,” Anita Allen noted how much her early and influential writing on privacy was influenced by contemporary feminist scholarship on “the notion that men and women inhabit ‘separate spheres’ and that family homes, while ‘private,’ can also be oppressive.” As feminists increasingly critiqued the ideas of “public” and “private” as a false dichotomy that could be oppressive to women, privacy became a less and less appealing way of framing women’s right to control their own bodies.

If enthusiasm for Roe v. Wade’s version of privacy rights was fading in both legal and feminist circles, privacy itself faced a new influence in computerization and especially, in the nascent internet. As computers and networking made it possible to collect and process greater and greater volumes of data, the conversation on privacy started to shift from “decisional privacy” to “information privacy.” As Paul M. Schwartz writes in “Property, Privacy, and Personal Data,”

Information privacy can…be distinguished from “decisional privacy,” which, for example, was at stake in the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. The focus of decisional privacy is on freedom from interference when one makes certain fundamental decisions, including hose concerning reproduction and child-rearing.” In contrast, information privacy is concerned with the use, transfer, and processing of the personal data generated in daily life.

In the post-Roe internet era, this is the understanding of privacy that has become predominant. “At the close of the twentieth century, a conception of privacy strongly around regulating the collection, processing and dissemination of information could still be described as novel,” Slansky writes. “[B]ut today it has taken over. Control over data flows has become “the cornerstone of our modern right to privacy.”

What Information Privacy Has To Do With Decisional Privacy

Yet the very notion of controlling data flows—the very notion of information privacy—is only available to internet users because of the groundwork laid by Roe. Abortion rights brought the idea of a right to privacy into the American mainstream; internet users have merely evolved and adapted that right.

But it’s a right that may now be in jeopardy, for the very reason the Bork example suggests: The notion of a right to privacy has always taken a lot of political heat. It doesn’t help that the recognition of a right to privacy emerged out of court decisions around abortion, contraception, obscenity, and sodomy — the four horsemen of the moral apocalypse as far as social conservatives are concerned.  A Supreme Court that knocks down the idea of constitutional privacy rights can take down abortion and internet porn in one fell swoop.

Such a Court can take down just about every other aspect of online privacy, too: little things like knowing who can see where you’ve spent your money, or who can read your emails, or what your favorite social network is allowed to do with your posts. We’re so used to a public discourse based on a right to privacy that we have no way of talking about what our online boundaries would be if that privacy right were to disappear.

Here too we can learn from the tangled history of privacy, abortion, and the internet. The very reasons that Roe came in for criticism may give us a path forward. In “A Taxonomy of Privacy,” Daniel J. Solove notes that “[m]any commentators have argued that the language of privacy is inappropriate for decisional interference cases, since they primarily concern a harm to autonomy and liberty, not to privacy.”

But the very nature of the internet blurs the line between information privacy and decisional privacy—rendering the idea of privacy just as problematic online as it is in the case of Roe v. Wade. As Slansky notes, “how data is shared, aggregated, and used determines not just who gets targeted by advertisements but who gets hired and promoted, who can borrow money and on what terms, who is insured and at what cost, and who is detained, arrested, or deported.”

What starts out looking like an information privacy issue turns out to be a decisional privacy issue, because interference in data flows amounts to interference in decision-making: Whoever has access to your data can use it to make major decisions about your life. They can also use that data to manipulate your decisions. They can show you ads that alter where you decide to eat or shop. They can stream you music choices that will affect your mood and your online behavior. They can choose which social media posts you’ll see and shape who you’ll be friends with.

But it’s a moot point if we get a Supreme Court that disavows any commitment to privacy rights, abortion rights, or personal autonomy. As Marjorie Heins writes in her article on “Privacy and Anonymity at the U.S. Supreme Court,” “[t]here are political limits to what the courts can accomplish, and U.S. history shows that the Supreme Court is often not a strong defender of constitutional rights at times that matter most.”

That’s exactly why abortion rights supporters are worried about the impact of a Supreme Court shift at this particular moment in history.  But if the history of Roe v. Wade tells us anything, it’s that anyone who cares about privacy—or more fundamentally, about personal autonomy—should share their fears.

The post What Roe v. Wade Means for Internet Privacy appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_excerpt] =>

Roe v. Wade left Americans with the idea that privacy is something we can expect as citizens. But does the SCOTUS consider privacy a constitutional right?

The post What Roe v. Wade Means for Internet Privacy appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-17 11:05:57 [post_date] => 2018-07-17 04:05:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-17 11:05:57 [post_modified] => 2018-07-17 04:05:57 [post_status] => draft [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => open [guid] => https://daily.jstor.org/?p=58865 [meta] => Array ( [enclosure] => Array ( [0] => ) [syndication_source] => The Digital Voyage – JSTOR Daily [syndication_source_uri] => https://daily.jstor.org [syndication_source_id] => https://daily.jstor.org/column/the-digital-voyage/feed/ [syndication_feed] => https://daily.jstor.org/column/the-digital-voyage/feed/ [syndication_feed_id] => 71 [syndication_permalink] => https://daily.jstor.org/what-roe-v-wade-means-for-internet-privacy/ [syndication_item_hash] => Array ( [0] => 45fd70fee2a074c791c658810f222b90 [1] => a9d5c6a2450a6b4810f41c9ed81beaea ) ) [post_type] => clippings [post_author] => 1180 [tax_input] => Array ( [category] => Array ( ) [post_tag] => Array ( [0] => 9 [1] => 1109 [2] => 763 [3] => 303 ) [post_format] => Array ( ) ) )

Decide filter: Returning post, everything seems orderly :What Roe v. Wade Means for Internet Privacy

Array ( [post_title] => What Roe v. Wade Means for Internet Privacy [post_content] =>

The impending retirement of Justice Kennedy and the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh mean that Roe v. Wade is once again making headlines. But this time, it’s not just abortion rights advocates who should be thinking about the future of that particular Supreme Court decision: It’s just as crucial to people who care about their freedom, autonomy, and privacy online.

Audio brought to you by curio.io

Privacy and Roe v. Wade

That’s because not only abortion rights but internet rights owe an enormous debt to the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. It was in Roe v. Wade that Justice Harry Blackmun articulated privacy as the basis for abortion rights—laying the foundation not only for safe and legal abortion, but also for a new way of thinking about privacy that would inform the emergent internet.

In “A Justice Defined by a Ruling,” Henry J. Reske notes that Roe v. Wade

perhaps more than any single ruling, has enshrined in the American consciousness the notion of a right to privacy, or as Justice Louis D. Brandeis put it in the 1928 dissent to Olmstead v. United States, the “right to be let alone.” …Roe represents the completion of a quest begun by the Court in Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965 when it first sought to define a right to privacy.…Roe clearly established that there is a 14th Amendment due process right to privacy, a right that Blackmun, in the 7-2 ruling, extended to cover abortion.

The impact of this decision reached far beyond the legal status of abortion: it changed the conversations around both abortion and privacy. “Privacy was not absent from public discourse about abortion prior to Roe, but it looked nothing like the conception of privacy familiar to us in contemporary abortion politics,” Vincent Vecera wrote in the 2014 article, “The Supreme Court and the Social Conception of Abortion.” “Where reform advocates talked about privacy before Roe, they almost always talked about the privacy afforded any medical decision….The transformation of traditional medical privacy into novel legal conceptions of privacy—personal privacy, personal choice, and personal autonomy—began prior to and partially alongside the broader trend toward the de-medicalization of abortion.”

Roe v. Wade transformed American attitudes towards privacy as surely as it transformed the conversation around abortion. As Vecera observes, “The justices of the Supreme Court influence politics beyond their ability to execute policy.”

Privacy as a Constitutional Right

In the case of privacy rights, Roe v. Wade enshrined privacy as a constitutional right—but one that was left a bit hazy. “Judges as well as scholars assumed that there was such a thing as privacy and that it mattered,” David Alan Slansky writes in his 2014 article, “Too Much Information: How Not to Think About Privacy and the Fourth Amendment.”  “[T]he legal debate was simply about how much and what kind of protection privacy received.”

That haziness notwithstanding, Roe v. Wade left Americans with the idea that privacy is something we can expect as citizens. There’s no better proof of that growing consensus than the 1987 Senate confirmation fight over Robert Bork, nominated by Ronald Reagan to the Supreme Court. Bork faced an immediate backlash for past statements in which he not only expressed his disdain for the Roe decision, but his skepticism about the very idea of a constitutional right to privacy.

“By the time Bork’s own five days of testimony were complete, it was utterly clear that his public image as an unyielding foe of constitutional privacy had become perhaps the single greatest negative in spoiling his chances for Senate confirmation,” David J. Garrow writes in “Privacy and the American Constitution,” which delves deeply into the Bork nomination and its aftermath. “[A]s any number of subsequent public opinion polls confirm, the American mass public has no doubt or hesitation whatsoever that the United States Constitution should be read to encompass a very basic, very fundamental, and very inclusive right to privacy.”

When Bork’s nomination collapsed, Reagan instead nominated Anthony Kennedy—yes, the Anthony Kennedy whose imminent retirement has pro-choice supporters worried about Roe again. As Garrow notes, Kennedy “carefully told the senators that he believed ‘that the concept of liberty in the due process clause is quite expansive, quite sufficient, to protect the values of privacy that Americans legitimately think are part of their constitutional heritage.’”

Want more stories like this one?

[contact-form-7]

A belief in a constitutional right to privacy was now a de facto requirement for a post-Roe Supreme Court nominee. But the debate over privacy was far from over.

First, the very fact that privacy came to the fore in the context of abortion arguably exposed the idea of a right to privacy to extra scrutiny and criticism from the right and left, and from both academics and lay people. Writing about “Privacy Without the Right to Privacy,” Scott A. Anderson notes that it is  “commonplace to regard the concept of privacy as a mess, and to hold that significant work is needed to show its coherence as a concept, if it can be done at all. Some have also argued that there may not be a right to privacy, or that if there is, it must be much narrower than it has recently been construed.” As Garrow puts it, “there was a sense by the mid-1970s—especially, but not only, among scholars and judges opposed to the rulings in Griswold, Eisenstadt, and Roe—that the concept of privacy had been stretched too far in those cases.”

Second, the women’s movement quickly realized that privacy was a problematic basis for abortion rights, and tried to move the conversation beyond its nebulous foundation. In her article “Gender and Privacy in Cyberspace,” Anita Allen noted how much her early and influential writing on privacy was influenced by contemporary feminist scholarship on “the notion that men and women inhabit ‘separate spheres’ and that family homes, while ‘private,’ can also be oppressive.” As feminists increasingly critiqued the ideas of “public” and “private” as a false dichotomy that could be oppressive to women, privacy became a less and less appealing way of framing women’s right to control their own bodies.

If enthusiasm for Roe v. Wade’s version of privacy rights was fading in both legal and feminist circles, privacy itself faced a new influence in computerization and especially, in the nascent internet. As computers and networking made it possible to collect and process greater and greater volumes of data, the conversation on privacy started to shift from “decisional privacy” to “information privacy.” As Paul M. Schwartz writes in “Property, Privacy, and Personal Data,”

Information privacy can…be distinguished from “decisional privacy,” which, for example, was at stake in the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. The focus of decisional privacy is on freedom from interference when one makes certain fundamental decisions, including hose concerning reproduction and child-rearing.” In contrast, information privacy is concerned with the use, transfer, and processing of the personal data generated in daily life.

In the post-Roe internet era, this is the understanding of privacy that has become predominant. “At the close of the twentieth century, a conception of privacy strongly around regulating the collection, processing and dissemination of information could still be described as novel,” Slansky writes. “[B]ut today it has taken over. Control over data flows has become “the cornerstone of our modern right to privacy.”

What Information Privacy Has To Do With Decisional Privacy

Yet the very notion of controlling data flows—the very notion of information privacy—is only available to internet users because of the groundwork laid by Roe. Abortion rights brought the idea of a right to privacy into the American mainstream; internet users have merely evolved and adapted that right.

But it’s a right that may now be in jeopardy, for the very reason the Bork example suggests: The notion of a right to privacy has always taken a lot of political heat. It doesn’t help that the recognition of a right to privacy emerged out of court decisions around abortion, contraception, obscenity, and sodomy — the four horsemen of the moral apocalypse as far as social conservatives are concerned.  A Supreme Court that knocks down the idea of constitutional privacy rights can take down abortion and internet porn in one fell swoop.

Such a Court can take down just about every other aspect of online privacy, too: little things like knowing who can see where you’ve spent your money, or who can read your emails, or what your favorite social network is allowed to do with your posts. We’re so used to a public discourse based on a right to privacy that we have no way of talking about what our online boundaries would be if that privacy right were to disappear.

Here too we can learn from the tangled history of privacy, abortion, and the internet. The very reasons that Roe came in for criticism may give us a path forward. In “A Taxonomy of Privacy,” Daniel J. Solove notes that “[m]any commentators have argued that the language of privacy is inappropriate for decisional interference cases, since they primarily concern a harm to autonomy and liberty, not to privacy.”

But the very nature of the internet blurs the line between information privacy and decisional privacy—rendering the idea of privacy just as problematic online as it is in the case of Roe v. Wade. As Slansky notes, “how data is shared, aggregated, and used determines not just who gets targeted by advertisements but who gets hired and promoted, who can borrow money and on what terms, who is insured and at what cost, and who is detained, arrested, or deported.”

What starts out looking like an information privacy issue turns out to be a decisional privacy issue, because interference in data flows amounts to interference in decision-making: Whoever has access to your data can use it to make major decisions about your life. They can also use that data to manipulate your decisions. They can show you ads that alter where you decide to eat or shop. They can stream you music choices that will affect your mood and your online behavior. They can choose which social media posts you’ll see and shape who you’ll be friends with.

But it’s a moot point if we get a Supreme Court that disavows any commitment to privacy rights, abortion rights, or personal autonomy. As Marjorie Heins writes in her article on “Privacy and Anonymity at the U.S. Supreme Court,” “[t]here are political limits to what the courts can accomplish, and U.S. history shows that the Supreme Court is often not a strong defender of constitutional rights at times that matter most.”

That’s exactly why abortion rights supporters are worried about the impact of a Supreme Court shift at this particular moment in history.  But if the history of Roe v. Wade tells us anything, it’s that anyone who cares about privacy—or more fundamentally, about personal autonomy—should share their fears.

The post What Roe v. Wade Means for Internet Privacy appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

[post_excerpt] =>

Roe v. Wade left Americans with the idea that privacy is something we can expect as citizens. But does the SCOTUS consider privacy a constitutional right?

The post What Roe v. Wade Means for Internet Privacy appeared first on JSTOR Daily.

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