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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

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Chanson de Roland

As catastrophic as the massive Yahoo data breach has been and is for the security of ordinary consumers and institutions and as catastrophic as it has been and is for the privacy of ordinary consumer, there is at least one good thing: It is now completely untenable, as a matter of law and logic, to maintain that the personal information that was stolen was not the intellectual property of the individual consumers who either provided it and/or authored it through their acts on the Internet. For how can it be otherwise? Surely Yahoo and all of the companies that have suffered and all of those who, by acquiring and handling our personal information, risk data breaches have not suffered and do not risk the theft of their own information, but the personal information that they would not and could not possibly have, unless customers/users either provided it to them and/or authored it by their acts on the Internet. So, as a matter of law and logic, a customers personal information must be and is his.

Yahoo and others' data breaches also make clear the implications of the foregoing patent truth that customers/users' personal information is theirs. That implication is that customers/users' personal information is their intellectual property, which as their intangible, unique expressions, once reduced to any intelligible medium, such as computer memory, is their copyrighted work.

Now, that it is clear beyond further peradventure that we, the people, own our personal information and have a copyright in it, isn't it time that courts also acknowledged this patent truth? Isn't it time for the FCC and FTC to also acknowledge and honor the same simply and obvious truth? For until the courts and government regulators do honor that patent truth, that each of us has an exclusive proprietary interest in his personal information, as his intellectual property, then all of the firms who acquire and risk our personal information for their profits will continue to do so with either impunity from civil and criminal law or will risk suffering civil and criminal sanctions that are inadequate to compensate consumers/users' for the misappropriation of their personal information, won't receive adequate compensation for any damage that they suffer as a result of the misappropriation of their personal information, and the law will not have sufficiently sever sanctions to deter the misappropriation of our personal information and/or misuse of our personal information.

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