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We, the Data: Human Rights in the Digital Age

by Wendy H. Wong
The book examines how datification impacts human rights and society. Wong argues that as our lives become increasingly data-driven, it is essential to extend human rights to address the complexities introduced by the digital age.

Key Concepts

Data as a part of human identity: Wong contends that data created through our everyday activities should be seen as an extension of ourselves. This perspective demands a rethinking of how data rights are integrated into existing human rights frameworks.

Collective stakeholding: Wong urges the public to view themselves as collective stakeholders rather than passive subjects of data collection. She argues that the power of data lies in its collective nature, which influences societal and political dynamics.

Foundation of Human Rights: Wong revisits the foundational values of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights—autonomy, dignity, equality, and community—and assesses how these values are affected by datafication. She discusses the implications of technologies like facial recognition on these core values.

Posthumous data rights: A unique aspect of Wong’s analysis is the consideration of what happens to our data after death, highlighting the need for policies that address posthumous data rights.

Data literacy: Wong calls for a right to data literacy, asserting that understanding how data and algorithms influence our lives is crucial for meaningful participation in the digital world.

About Wendy H. Wong

Wendy H. Wong is a Professor of Political Science and Principal’s Research Chair at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Okanagan. She focuses on global governance, human rights, and the political implications of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data.

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