The Cost of Privacy Policies - Complexity Mapping

︎ 2022

Language is at the heart of so many of our most complex issues. The way that communication (and miscommunications) occur between different parties allows for confusing problems to flourish. One area where I see language being used for manipulation, is the Data Collection Economy. I developed the Complexity Diagram above to shed some light on the interworkings of this system, and explain how simply clicking “agree” could be used by companies to track your exact location. View the system through multiple lenses by following the different colored paths.

At the heart of this issue? The digital privacy policy: that lengthy document we all scroll through in order to use the apps and websites that help us function within society. When we check that box or agree to the terms, we are allowing our personal information to be collected and sold. These privacy policies are too dense and contain too much legal jargon to be understood by the common citizen, leaving many in the dark about what happens to the data they generate. 

From my perspective, corporations who experience financial gain from consumers who agree to these privacy policies are dealing with dirty money. Until privacy policies are clear and explicit about their intents with their data collection, specifically with location data, I believe they should be considered unethical. In my diagram I’ve outlined points of intervention that could support consumers within this system, and I hope that soon we see a future where we feel safe and secure while using the internet.

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