Professor Jane Yakowitz discussed the concept of "data commons"—which she explores in her forthcoming Harvard Journal of Law & Technology article "Tragedy of Data Commons"—with the Boston Globe in a recent profile. She defines "data commons" as the private information consumers provide to companies online that is ultimately used for demographic studies. While some believe the prevalence of individuals willingly sharing information ranging from hobbies to home addresses may create huge privacy issues, Professor Yakowitz and other Internet experts argue that the risk in dispensing private information is worth the benefit of data collection. “There are patterns and trends that none of us can discern by looking at our own individual experiences,” she explained. “But if we pooled our information, then these patterns can emerge very quickly and irrefutably. So, we should want that sort of knowledge to be made publicly available.”
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