Published March 10, 2023 by Tom Porter

Bowdoin Philosophy Scholar Argues the Case for Digital Privacy

“Maine legislators, please, give us our power back.” This was the plea from Assistant Professor of Philosophy Aliosha Barranco Lopez in an op-ed published today in The Portland Press Herald.

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Writing in the paper’s Maine Voices column, she urged state legislators to support privacy laws protecting personal information.

“Knowledge is power,” said Barranco Lopez. “In our digital society, whoever has access to your personal information has power over you. They can influence you to do things you might not have done without that subtle push (like voting for someone), or they can coerce you into doing things that you would definitely not have done otherwise (like handing out large amounts of money).”

The personal information of many Americans, including age, gender, geolocation, and how fast they drive, is owned by companies who can often do what they want with it, including selling it, said Barranco Lopez.

In the absence of federal legislation, she wants Maine lawmakers to enact strong privacy measures that would give consumers ownership of their personal information, making it easier for them to ask private companies to delete any data they have about them. Read the article.

Barranco Lopez said she wrote the op-ed in response to some of the topics discussed with students in her Ethics for a Digital World class last semester (PHIL 1336/DCS 1650).