Executive Briefings

You're the Victim of 'Digital Serfdom'

Digital devices and the Internet of Things are taking us back to the Middle Ages.

You’re the Victim of 'Digital Serfdom'

If you own any kind of digital device, or spend any time on the internet, then consider yourself a "serf," and the providers of those devices your feudal lords.

That's the view of Joshua A.T. Fairfield, professor of law at Washington and Lee University. He warns that we are ignorant of the extent to which marketers and device manufacturers are tracking our every move, purchase and taste. It's a one-sided transfer of information in which they have all the power, he says. There's a "shadow social network" that trades in consumer data without our consent or compensation. What’s more, we don’t really own the devices for which we’ve paid large sums of money, let alone the content that we draw from them. In his recent book, Owned: Property, Privacy and the New Digital Serfdom, Fairfield lays out the implications of an environment rife with intrusive sensors. On this episode, he explains the thesis of the book, and reveals what advertisers and merchandisers are doing with all of that personal data. In addition, he offers ideas on how we might stop them — or at least make it harder for them to get an accurate picture of our “private” selves. Hosted by Bob Bowman, Managing Editor of SupplyChainBrain.

Look for a new episode of the podcast, which can be downloaded or streamed, every Friday on the SupplyChainBrain website and iTunes.

Show notes:

Fairfield’s book, Owned: Property, Privacy and the New Digital Serfdom.

Stream or download podcast here

If you own any kind of digital device, or spend any time on the internet, then consider yourself a "serf," and the providers of those devices your feudal lords.

That's the view of Joshua A.T. Fairfield, professor of law at Washington and Lee University. He warns that we are ignorant of the extent to which marketers and device manufacturers are tracking our every move, purchase and taste. It's a one-sided transfer of information in which they have all the power, he says. There's a "shadow social network" that trades in consumer data without our consent or compensation. What’s more, we don’t really own the devices for which we’ve paid large sums of money, let alone the content that we draw from them. In his recent book, Owned: Property, Privacy and the New Digital Serfdom, Fairfield lays out the implications of an environment rife with intrusive sensors. On this episode, he explains the thesis of the book, and reveals what advertisers and merchandisers are doing with all of that personal data. In addition, he offers ideas on how we might stop them — or at least make it harder for them to get an accurate picture of our “private” selves. Hosted by Bob Bowman, Managing Editor of SupplyChainBrain.

Look for a new episode of the podcast, which can be downloaded or streamed, every Friday on the SupplyChainBrain website and iTunes.

Show notes:

Fairfield’s book, Owned: Property, Privacy and the New Digital Serfdom.

Stream or download podcast here

You’re the Victim of 'Digital Serfdom'