The Paths to Digital Self-Determination - A Foundational Theoretical Framework
34 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2021 Last revised: 24 Apr 2021
Date Written: April 22, 2021
A deluge of data is giving rise to new understandings and experiences of society and economy as our digital footprint grows steadily. Are data subjects able to determine themselves in this data-driven society? The emerging debates about autonomy and communal responsibility in the context of data access or protection, highlight a pressing imperative to re-imagine the ‘self’ in the digital space. Empowerment, autonomy, sovereignty, human centricity, are all terms often associated with the notion of digital self-determination in current policy language. More academics, industry experts, policymakers, regulators are now advocating self-determination in a data-driven world. The attitudes to self-determination range from alienating data as property through to broad considerations of communal access and enrichment. Digital self-determination is a complex notion to be viewed from different perspectives and in unique spaces, re-shaping what we understand as self-determination in the non-digital world. This paper explores the notion of digital self-determination by presenting a foundational theoretical framework based on pre-existent self-determination theories and exploring the implications of the digital society in the determination of the self. Only by better appreciating and critically framing the discussion of digital self-determination, is it possible to engage in trustworthy data spaces, and ensure ethical human centric approaches when living in a data driven society.
Keywords: digital self-determination, data, AI, ethics, data protection
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