People Affected By Addiction, Democratic Attorney General Candidates Meet In A Debate, Caring About Data Privacy

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time

In the first part of Central Time’s three-day series on heroin use in Wisconsin, Rob Ferrett and Gene Purcell talk with two guests who’s lives have been touched by addiction. They’ll also talk about a debate tonight for the Democratic candidates for Wisconsin Attorney General and hear from a philosopher on why we should be taking data collection and online privacy more seriously.

Featured in this Show

  • Internet Surveillance, Misuse Of Data Threatens Personal Identities, Philosopher Says

    There’s been a steady stream of news in recent months about how vulnerable people’s online data is — from surveillance by the National Security Agency to criminal identity theft to exploitation for commercial gain.

    Recent surveys show that many people aren’t happy with the way their online data is being used and abused, including an ongoing Pew Research Center survey that finds growing concern over NSA data surveillance, with 53 percent of Americans disapproving, as of January.

    Philosopher Colin Koopman, of the University of Oregon, said people should take the issue even more seriously because in some respects, people’s online data is a part of their personal identity.

    “Our information in part constitutes who we are, ” he said. “Whatever else we are, we’re now also our information.”

    People are defined, Koopman said, by an ever-growing collection of information, from birth records and names to Social Security numbers and educational and financial records. With the growing use of internet technology and social media, that pool of information is growing.

    He said American society hasn’t caught up with that reality, in institutions or moral and ethical frameworks, and we as individuals haven’t grasped the implications.

    “There’s been a big shift in identity over the last few decades, ” he said. “We really are much more intimate with our data, our information than we’re used to thinking.”

    Koopman makes the case that the rise in the concept of personal information only started taking root in the 19th Century. Before then, even names were fluid concepts that could change over time or in different contexts. People’s informational selves grew, he said, with the rise of government data collection and accelerated in the digital age.

    ‘This is really unprecedented in human history, so it’s not bred in our DNA to think of ourselves in terms of information and paperwork and digital trails that are aggregating around our lives,” he said.

    He said this should all make us more concerned about things like the NSA surveillance activities revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but people haven’t quite made the personal connection.

    “I think people have a sense that there’s something that they ought to be concerned with,” he said. “I think that people don’t really have a good sense of how to put their finger on exactly what’s going on. I think there’s a deep philosophical question about what is wrong with the new levels of surveillance that we’re seeing.”

  • Heroin Series: People Affected By Addiction

    In the first of our three-day series on heroin use in Wisconsin, two people whose lives have been touched by opiate addiction share their stories.

  • Tonight's Attorney General Debate

    Tonight in Madison the Democratic candidates for Wisconsin Attorney General are attending a debate. A WPR news reporter joins us to discuss the race and what issues are taking center stage.

  • Our Data, Ourselves: Why Data Privacy Is A Personal Issue

    We should take NSA internet surveillance and data privacy violations personally. That’s according to a philosopher who says our online data is part of our personal identity.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Colin Koopman Guest
  • Nathan Comp Guest
  • Karen Etter Hale Guest
  • Gilman Halsted Guest
  • Amanda Magnus Producer

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