Abstract - The Information Society 10(2)

The digital persona and its application to data surveillance

Roger Clarke

The digital persona is a model of the individual established through the collection, storage, and analysis of data about that person. It is a useful concept for developing an understanding of the behavior of the new, networked world. It is suggested that an understanding of many aspects of network behavior will be enabled or enhanced by applying this concept. However, the digital persona is a potentially threatening, demeaning, and perhaps socially dangerous phenomenon. One area in which its more threatening aspects warrant consideration is in data surveillance - the monitoring of people through their data. Data surveillance provides an economically efficient method of exercising control over the behavior of individuals and societies. The manner in which the digital persona contributes to an understanding of particular dataveillance techniques such as computer matching and profiling are discussed and the risks inherent in monitoring of digital personae are outlined.

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