A Provocative Installation Highlights Our Lack Of Online Privacy

A Provocative Installation Highlights Our Lack Of Online Privacy

An interactive installation at this year's Art Basel in Miami reminds us that many of our digital transactions utilize our personal data as the currency that drives them (nothing in business is free).

Paloma M. Vazquez
  • 13 december 2011

While Art Basel (Miami) took place a couple of weekends ago now, there was one particular installation that has lingered in our memories for its relevance to one of the most equally contested and ignored topics in the digital conversation: privacy. An installation developed by interactive firm Branger_Briz acted as a provocative reminder that the digital and social capabilities we assume to be free — like Facebook and many other social and digital properties — often come with the price tag of our personal data and privacy, which is in turn ‘archived, indexed and monetized.’ According to Branger_Briz:

A Charge For Privacy attempts to recreate this relationship (between privacy and cost) by offering a utility, essentially an iPhone charging station, at the cost of privacy. Basel goers are welcome to charge their cell phones at the station, but not without agreeing to the Terms of Use (written all along the sides of the station).

Plugging an iPhone into the station immediately triggered download of all the photos stored on the phone. Of course, not without first making the dramatic terms of the exchange known to you (see below). Downloaded photos ultimately formed part of a public digital-graffiti installation.

[…] You (b) grant Branger_Briz an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any and all of the images retrieved.

We loved this installation and idea, for its provocative reminder that, despite growing accustomed to sharing our personal information under the guise of its being limited to our ‘personal networks,’ it’s not without a cost. Social networks are businesses and our data is part of the currency of that exchange.




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