This is a post regarding Personal Data Rights, or the lack thereof, at this point in time in the field of computing. Now a disclaimer for those reading my blog: if you read this simply for Peace Corps stories, then maybe this isn’t for you. However, this is not a tech article written for techies. In fact, part of the problem that I am describing is that these issues are not talked about for non-techies as much. Therefore, I beseech you: even if you are a non-techie please continue reading this article as Personal Data Rights will only affect you more as time goes on and it’s important to at least be familiar with the topic.
What is Personal Data?
You may be asking yourself, what is, “personal data,” anyways. As far as I know, there is no industry standard definition yet, so I am just going to start with my own definition: when I talk about, “personal data,” I am talking specifically about information you create, no matter the form. No more, no less. Whether that information is typed into Microsoft Word on your laptop or typed into a text box on Facebook, if you create the data, it is personal to you and therefore, there must be some degree of ownership attributed to the data or if necessary, legally and fairly contracted away.
In most common use cases, personal data can refer to documents and pictures and other traditional computer, “files,” or it can refer to information that is contextualized by a service. Contextualized information in this regard might be something such as typing your favorite books list into Facebook. The attribution of a list of book titles to your account makes and therefore to you as an individual makes this information personal.