« TSA Checkpoint of the Future | Main | Turing the tables on Nigerian scammers »

Jun 21, 2012


An interesting thought. But didn't those very same NBA players AGREE to have their data tracked in such a manner (or at least have a camera follow them), and are in fact paid to have that camera go behind them? Perhaps under a contract? Because very few of those who are tracked by "Big Data" companies had given their consent beforehand. You make a compelling argument for an opt-in system where internet users can agree to have their information tracked- not for tracking itself.

I do not know about the European directive, but are you sure it would apply to, say, tracking where soccer players kick the ball versus when the kick results in a goal? And if not, could it be solved by a simple contractual change?

Yes, I think you could rewrite NBA contracts to obtain consent. But what a pointless pain in the neck. Whenever I point out the serious friction costs imposed by EU-style privacy laws, someone argues that, properly understood and lawyered, a reasonable result can be achieved despite the language of those laws. That's often true, but it turns what should be a simple human interaction into a three-cornered relationship, with a data protection authority able to intervene at will. i don't think we improve our lives when ordinary living requires more lawyers and more government permission.

Somewhat fair, although I do not think preventing the NBA players from having that say in the first place is all that great an idea in the first place. I'm actually a little surprised that the NBA contracts didn't have consent in their in the first place if only because of legal concerns and prevent any possible pains in the neck. In that way you can maintain a two-member contract between the NBA (who has consent through contracts) and the media companies. The "lawyer count" would remain somewhat the same, unless you banned companies from picking up "stalking" rights in the same way companies can obtain the copyrights of musicians and artists (for instance: just as DC, not the creators of Superman, still hold the rights over Superman, the NBA would maintain the "rights" over "tracking" a collection of players like Kobe Bryant).

Furthermore, a basketball player knows he is going to be "tracked" to make cool camera angles while the average guy on the net does not want facebook tracking their Internet habits without any form of consent whatsoever and with no legal recourse. That's an argument for rewriting the directive to properly handle the problem, not for warrantless and recourseless tracking.

The comments to this entry are closed.