The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics seeks to strengthen teaching and research about pressing ethical issues; to foster sound norms of ethical reasoning and civic discussion; and to share the work of our community in the public interest.
For the Record
For the Record’ is a feature where our Fellows-in-Residence and Graduate Fellows have a chance to present their research ideas informally, reflect on their experience at the Center, or report on Center events. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics or other group or individual.
This month's For the Record comes from Eugene P. Beard Graduate Fellow in Ethics, Elettra Bietti, SJD student at Harvard Law School and an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Her thesis focuses on information gatekeepers such as Facebook and Google. She is currently exploring these companies' moral and legal obligations towards individuals through a methodology drawn from political theory and public law, considering them as sites of contestation, in which new interests and forms of social organization demand for a reconfiguration of individual rights, entitlements, and obligations.
Locked-in Data Production: User-Dignity and Capture in the Platform Economy
“Data” can be many different things: information about a person (e.g., date of birth, name of pet, current or past location), content (e.g., this blog post), metadata or information about information (e.g., where data is stored, who stored it and how, or the number of amendments that this blog post underwent), information that might indirectly relate to a person (e.g., the number of people who visited the gym yesterday, the most on-demand body product in a neighborhood), or information that is not about people at all (e.g., the chemical composition of the ozone layer). With the advent of the Internet, of large technology platforms, and of the data economy, questions emerge as to how flows of data, or subsets of it, should be governed and constrained, particularly as they relate to persons, and how data might affect their lives and well-being.