Should Leaving A Digital Footprint Worry You?

Where private actors like Facebook employ profiling practices, is there a distinguished line beyond which they cannot go? In addition, how does the notion of private-sector regulation reflect on government liability where profiling practices are employed as part of its criminal justice strategy?

Group and personalised profiling capacities have exponentially grown. As a contextual tool, it is vital to briefly define ‘profiling’. In this day, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we leave a cosmic expanse of processable electronic-traces – a digital footprint . The correlation and compilation of these electronic-traces is what spawns infinite profiles that in effect facilitate a real-time breakdown of our behaviour, responsiveness, inclinations, individuality; and affirm any predictions thereof.

In my view, profiling in itself is neither bad nor good – it merely generates knowledge. In this way, the private sector can use this knowledge for employment, marketing, insurances; and the public sector can use it for national security, fighting crime and making more informed decisions. However, use of the same deleterious profiling practices results in both sectors abusing the amassed informational power to the detriment of unsuspecting data subjects.

It is important to conduct ongoing research on specific legal issues where potential prejudice exists, as EndCode explores. To the extent that decisions affecting African lives are centred on such knowledge, we must develop the means to legal and technical tools for data subjects to anticipate and challenge such knowledge or contest its use.