Digital Slave or Digital Citizen?


‘Quite simply, there can be no true democracy unless the citizens of a country realise that they are sovereign, that they are the main protagonists, and then with wisdom and a strong sense of responsibility take action based on that realisation.

Democracy cannot be successful in its mission unless the people rouse themselves to become more informed and involved, unless they unite, unless they establish an unshakable force for justice and keep a strict eye on the activities of the powerful’.                                                                   Daisaku Ikeda,

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Data Slave: having all your data owned and controlled by someone else, so that they are owners of your digital existence and control your physical one.

Data Citizen: each human being with clear legal rights to govern and protect their personal data and to directly participate in the wealth it creates.

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Communication ethics is a resource for 21st century citizens.

A standpoint for life combined with easy-to-use digital tools, communication ethics is an everyday learning practice to protect citizens against digital enslavement.

Either we all demand and connect our data-identities to our rights as citizens, or we will be enslaved inside the new digital matrix.

The choice is ours.

We become digital slaves because we simply can’t be bothered to protect our democratic, human, civil and natural rights, or the rights of others.

It’s no longer about left and right, or liberal versus socialist.

It’s about who controls us and our priceless data.

As digital slaves we don’t own or control our data.

This is owned and traded between private and public corporations, for their profit not ours.

As global capitalism deteriorates the natural world, in parallel, it advances a world of digital control that protects it, not citizens.

A digital world where without civil rights to protect our data, we enter the class of non-citizens, literally denizens.

Denizens without power to protect ourselves against the risks and threats we all increasingly face (see blog Global Catastrophic Risks).

The great American mathematician, R. B. Fuller (1895-1983), described every citizen as a ‘sustainable billionaire’ due, he proposed, to our combined intellectual property and potential for innovation.

Fuller understood, we are each creators of imaginative solutions that when converted into intellectual property, fuel the economic growth of every state and every community.

This creative abundance offers a world of plenty for everyone, through science, art, and all creative endeavour.

Yet wealth-for-all is only assured by protecting citizen rights, both to life and the rights to our unique intellectual property.

Problems occur when this priceless personal and civic intellectual property — your private data, ideas, designs, writings and images — are misappropriated by global, national and privatised corporations that distort human development for their own ends.

Capitalism demands that ever larger amounts of capital accrue to ever smaller groups at the top.

This powerful mechanism creates special interests represented by elite political, government, media, technology and military forces. 

These same forces then apply capitalist economics to the digital age, in an attempt to further control the incredible power derived from data.

That means an elite class siphoning data from citizens, in return for ‘free apps’ or ‘limited services’, gaining control of everything about you.

What you think, where you go, who you know, what you eat, your health problems, your politics, your work, your private affiliations and so much more.

The life-data that belongs to you, is already being traded in massive ‘big data’ trading networks by private corporations and governments.

Unrecognised perhaps by most, digital technology is changing the operating conditions for the Planet. We each now live in a physical world and in a digital world.

If we lose control of of our data in the digital world we potentially lose control of our physical world, because the two are so closely bound together.

We must face this new ‘hyperreality’, or sleepwalk into digital enslavement.

Slavery is not too strong a word, as market economics has perpetuated a class-at-the-top and another, the majority, at the bottom.

The bottom includes people who receive a minimum of reward for actually doing 99% of the value creation.

And the next wave of technological redundancies – robotisation — is only going to drive more people to the bottom of this sharp divide.

By appreciating the value of your data and taking charge of it, you begin to discern the value of citizenship and to diminish the power of capital and elite self-interest.

In a world of profound, multiform crisis – financial, health, environmental, natural, energy and more besides, the time to act is now.

But action requires pre-determination, or reflection, to assure you apply your efforts most effectively.

This is done with communication ethics via ‘logics of interaction’, offering all citizens the tools to examine our world together.

Two steps are necessary. Assessing our personal values and organising our social values.

Leaving this task to elites, authorities, the media or governments, is leaving those who have already failed, the chance to fail again.

Citizens engaged in active dialogue with each other, protected via public forums, independent from outdated control-regimes, is the only means of generating trust and data security.

Trust is the actual foundation for every community in the digital age.

Don’t Leave Your Life to Others.

Don’t Trust Your Data to Anyone Else.