Friday, February 13, 2015


Bjorn made a few more attempts to change his profile at the Blacklist, but there were simply no way to change anything of significance. At best, he could change his name, but his real name would still be listed as one of his nicknames. There was no way to get rid of his real name, and no way to get rid of his contact details. His initial feeling of shock on discovering that he was stuck, gradually morphed into a lingering irritation with the site. Its refusal to let him remove his profile was in such blatant disregard of generally accepted rules. Surely, he had the right to remove his profile. Refusing him this right was clearly against the law.

The Blacklist, claiming to support the law of the so called empire, was breaking his right to privacy, and Bjorn found this both ironic and arrogant to the extreme. He looked around on the page in front of him to see if he could find out who might be the responsible owner. And there, at the bottom of the page he found a link to someone called Vinod. "That's it!" Bjorn thought to himself. "Now, let's sue him for everything he got!"

Bjorn clicked on the link, and somewhat to his surprise, he was not sent to a different site. He was simply presented with Vinod's profile on the Blacklist. It was reminiscent of Maria's profile in that it was rich in text and complete with a picture of Vinod himself, an Indian looking guy, proudly presenting himself as the owner and developer of the Blacklist.

Going down to the list at the bottom of Vinod's profile, Bjorn saw that the man had already managed to get himself into a dispute with three users over a privacy issue, and sensing that this dispute might be related to what he himself was going to write, Bjorn clicked on the case.

Bjorn read quickly through the complaint, which was marked as resolved, and realized that it was in fact identical to what he was planning to post. Bjorn was not the only one frustrated with the fact that he could not remove his profile. The three plaintiffs were just as frustrated with Vinod as Bjorn was. But the plaintiffs had lost the case. Maria had closed it with a remark saying that there is no such thing as a right to privacy.

Bjorn could hardly believe his eyes, but there it was. Maria had come out in favor of Vinod, and had closed the case. Bjorn moved his mouse over the status field and saw to his surprise that he could re-open the issue. Bjorn clicked on it and was presented with a comment field where he was required to make a legal argument, disputing Maria's closing argument.

"Oops, I'm getting ahead of myself again," Bjorn thought, panicky and closing the comment field almost as soon as it had popped up. "I better not do anything rash." Then he proceeded to read Maria's closing argument in detail.

"There is no such thing as a right to privacy," it read. "There are only property rights, and the data typed into the Blacklist are residing on Vinod's server, and are therefore Vinod's property. The so called right to privacy is actually a feature of property rights, and not a right in itself. Every person has an absolute right to privacy in their own home, because they have an absolute right to their property. The right to privacy cannot extend to other people's property, unless contractually extended by the rightful owner of said property. But Vinod has not extended such a right to the users of his website. In fact, everyone opening an account at the Blacklist had to agree to the conditions that explicitly stated that all data stored on the Blacklist belongs to the owner of the Blacklist. All data stored on the Blacklist belongs to Vinod. He can do with it what he pleases. And that includes his refusal to delete it."

Bjorn read Maria's comment with a sinking feeling of loss. He had indeed checked off on the warning when he in all haste opened his account, foolishly thinking that it was of little or no consequence. But he knew, even then, that the Blacklist was no ordinary website. He just assumed that it had to abide by the generally accepted rules and laws governing the internet. As it turned out, his assumption was wrong, and now that he had read Maria's final argument, it was evident that Vinod was not obliged to change the way the website worked, at least not according Maria's legal standards.

Bjorn moved the mouse over the list of plaintiffs. Then, as he let the marker hover over their names, a comment box appeared. "This case is close, but you can still join the plaintiffs if you agree with their case," it read. "Well, that's one way to register my dissatisfaction with the system," Bjorn thought. He clicked on the list. Then, when asked if he wanted to join the plaintiffs, he responded by clicking the OK button.

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