Saturday, March 03, 2007

A modest proposal

Today's proposed solution is based on the fact that numerous corporations are making billions of dollars by collecting, storing, sorting and analyzing information about YOU. Whether you like it or not. We have no control over the information that is being gathered about us, nor how that information is being used. I'm going to change all that and put some responsibility back into the mix.

Returning the custodial, quality control and transactional authority of this information to its rightful owner, YOU, can be accomplished by legislating the following:

1. Automatically extend copyrights to individuals over any information generated as a result of the individual's legal participation in society. This includes but is not limited to: employment history, purchase history, credit history, public records, personal relationships, addresses, account histories, surveys completed by the individual, letters, emails and other published works of the individuals, etc. Any information generated by the individual's existence that is determined to be of value in the marketplace is the property of the individual with all rights to possess, access, modify and share the information reserved by the individual.

2. Require all companies that trade in individual, identifiable personal information to annually inform each individual of every piece of related information in their databases for the purposes of obtaining YOUR explicit consent to possess the information, explicit consent to access the information, and explicit consent to share the information with the parties YOU specify, as well as for your verification that the information is accurate and current. This annual process may be achieved via the establishment and use of a secure online account for each individual, or a printed hardcopy of the information in its entirety (including logs, see #3 below), and correction and consent forms sent by certified mail to YOU and only YOU for your review, to be returned with corrections within 60 days to legally authorize the company to possess, access, modify and share the information.

Express authorization granted by information owners to companies shall be in effect for a period not exceeding one year from the date of authorization, and expires at the end of that one year period. Re-authorization must be obtained explicitly from the information owner in a manner complying with item #2 above. Continued possession or use of any information for the purposes of generating revenue without explicit renewal of authorization will result in penalties.

3. Require all companies engaged in the collection, storage, analysis and distribution of any information owned by individuals to record the source and date of acquisition of each piece of information in their possession, and to maintain logs indicating the date and time that any of the information is modified, deleted, accessed or shared, by whom, for what purpose, and the method such information was affected. These source and access logs will be included in their entirety in the annual owner information verification and authorization process described in item #2 above.

4. Require all companies engaged in the collection, storage, analysis and distribution of any information owned by individuals to pay royalties and rents at fair market rates for the information to its legal owner (YOU) each time the information is accessed or shared in such a manner that generates revenue for the companies. Such payments must be submitted to the information owners at intervals not exceeding 1 year. Failure to obtain authorization to possess, store, access or distribute information does not relieve any party of its obligation to compensate the owner for the information used for the purposes of generating revenue.

That's as far as I've gotten with the proposal, but can already see numerous loopholes for companies to weasel out of these obligations with ease. I have few ideas yet for enforcement or penalties. I'll work on all that later. What do you think?

Ron Paul's presidential exploratory committee website is coming along nicely. The online contributions section now appears to be working properly (please contribute), and they've added an "in the news" section to track Ron Paul in the print media. The streaming video on this page doesn't appear to be working, but perhaps it's because they have little footage to work with at this point.

There are several online groups springing up to support Ron Paul's campaign, including an official campaign group at myspace, several unofficial groups at yahoo, and at least one at youtube. The unaffiliated yahoo group RonPaul2008 has a decent number of members and some good media and poll tracking posts, but the authoritarian nature of the moderator has turned me off to it (all posts are moderated, the group has stringent rules for posting, and he publishes group membership lists that include our email addresses via email without obtaining members' express consent). But it's not entirely a loss: you can read the posts from the website without becoming a member.

Also at yahoo, the RonPaul2008 group moderator has created groups for each state in the format XX4RonPaul, where XX = your state's two-letter abbreviation.

Several articles to note discussing Ron Paul's candidacy lately:

Video: Ron Paul on Lou Dobbs, 2-26-07.

A Tale of Two Campaigns is a respectable review of two recent candidate rallies attended by the author. Those would be rallies by Hillary Clinton and Ron Paul.

Ron Paul, A Real Republican?
is an authentic if somewhat diminishing editorial praising Ron Paul's participation in the 2008 presidential campaign. The author heartily endorses the all too common sentiment that Ron Paul will serve as a magnet to draw the other GOP candidates back to their conservative roots, which in itself speaks volumes about the ultimate failure of personal responsibility whereby GOP candidates can't be genuinely conservative without external pressure. But as George Bush demonstrated to the world in the 2000 campaign, anybody can fake it good enough to win the voters' trust. (Don't blame me however, I saw through the charade then and voted for Gore).

On civil liberties in general and the REAL ID law in particular, here's what C-net got from Ron Paul:
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican who has created a presidential exploratory committee, took aim at what he described as his colleagues' lack of respect for privacy rights and civil liberties. "This is what has happened in Washington," he said. "There is no rule of law. There is no respect for the Constitution."
We hear you. If you want to purge Washington of the embedded traitorous corruption, you can't do it by voting for the media-crowned establishment candidates who live and breathe big, bad federal government. Throw all the bums out means just that, and it all starts with your willingness to do just that with your vote.

Support Ron Paul as the most honorable, principled, loyal defender of our cherished-but-withering Constitution.