Saturday, March 07, 2020

Willy Nilly and the Erosion of Privacy

Does personal privacy matter? Less so, it seems, in the age where a priority is put on the convenience of others and the profitability of "data", whether the subject of the eroded privacy likes it or not.

"Willy Nilly" harks back to the Old English for "will he" and "ne-will he", "ne" being the negative prefix which is not usually cited in online dictionaries. Most resources condense "ne-will" to "nill", but not all.

Millennials don't seem to mind.  Authors are accustomed to having to give up some privacy as a trade off for pursuing a career, and some authors use pen names... and sometimes, a pen name is not the guarantee of privacy that it used to be.

Perhaps, it is not a good thing for all those sites --that post disclaimers asking paid users to refrain from making employment, or housing, or lending, or other important decisions about the person whose alleged info they are selling online-- to be allowed to monetize private information.  They don't always get it right.  Even if they did get everything right, that information tends to deny persons a fair chance or a second chance.

It is divisive.

Ironically, to read a Loeb and Loeb legal blog article about privacy, you have to accept cookies.

Lexology link.

Loeb and Loeb LLP legal bloggers Melanie Howard, David W. Grace and Ashley Van Leer explain for the benefit of trademark owners how new USPTO rules make trademark owners' street addresses and email addresses available to the public. Authors cannot hide behind their intellectual properties attorney any more.

That is lovely for the "Person-Locator-type" internet businesses that sell personal information, and also for scammers, robocallers, spear phishers, and other common varieties of spammers... and advertisers and marketers.

By the way, on the subject of government helpfulness.... the Copyright Office will be raising many fees as of March 20th, 2020. (Not for photographers.)

Reverting to advertising and targeting, and the annoying loss of privacy, the Charles Russell Speechlys LLP  UK focused legal blog has some must-read insights into data driven online targeting.

Lexology link.


Legal blogger Olivia Crane does a deep dive into what data-driven online targeted advertising means, especially for Britons. This author sympathizes with Olivia Crane's unpleasant experience with shower curtains.

I had a similar experience recently with a synthetic planking product that popped up and virtually stalked me wherever I went (online).  This was after I made a purchase which I regret to this day... so where was the commercial sense in metaphorically bludgeoning me with a Lumber product?

It seems to me, the sensible advertisement targeters might be using "targeting" in much the same way as click-fraud.  "This woman recently bought a new roof for her house (usually a 15 - 30 year warrantied purchase), let's sell her name to roofers, so they can try --in vain-- to sell her a new roof!"

Most authors use Facebook, too.  The Socially Aware legal blog asks, "Are your facebook posts discoverable?"  Of course they are!


J. Alexander Lawrence and Lily Smith for Morrison Foerster LLP give chapter and verse on how far your privacy can be eroded and information you shared semi-privately on Facebook can be exploited and used against you in a court of law.

So, if you are ever going to sign a lease to rent a home that says "No cats", and having an illicit cat is grounds for eviction, do not post photos of your beloved cat on your Facebook page with distinctive features of said rental house in the background... for example.

Finally, for readers who love fine art, your ability to acquire anonymously is receeding, as Andrea N. Perez, writing for Carrington Coleman explains.


Art lovers are presumed to be terrorists and/or money launderers until they prove otherwise according to the EU's Fifth Directive.

What an excellent book title "The Fifth Directive" would be!

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 

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