Building Data Sets

March 14, 2019

I read “Why Is It Legal to Collect Data on Kids, Let Alone Sell It?” The write up comes from a person who contributed in some way to the fine operation that Facebook embodies. Now that person is asking questions about building databases.

I noticed this quote, allegedly made by one of the Facebookers past:

“Why is it okay for credit card companies to sell financial records?” McNamee said at the South by Southwest conference in Austin over the weekend. “Why is it legal for cell companies to sell location data? Why is it legal for companies that make apps for health and wellness to sell or trade our data? Why is it legal for anybody on the web to transact in our web history? Why is it legal to collect data on kids under 18, much less sell it?”

You can read the rest of the article, but I want to offer some answers to these questions; to wit:

  1. Because we can collect and build databases. Users are too stupid to know what we are doing.
  2. Because there are no consequences. Regulators and lawyers are as clueless as the users.
  3. Because it is easy if you are smart like us. Anyone not working at a Google- or Facebook-type company or an adviser to one of these outfits is not going to be able to keep up with us.
  4. Because we want do things which make people like us feel cool. Snort, snort, snort.
  5. Because we never understood the silliness related to any philosophical bedrock other than the mantra of “me, me, me” or what I call digital existentialism. One is what one does to attract attention from those just like “one.”
  6. Because it is cool to do the mea culpa thing in public.

Stephen E Arnold, March 14, 2019


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