The woman-turned-entrepreneur has lessons for a post-roe world

In 2014, Jennifer Lyn Morone decided to protect her data the only way she could as an individual: she incorporated herself. Jennifer Lyn Morone Inc. operates as Morone’s stand-alone data processing company, offering “a new business model designed to determine the value of an individual in relation to society and the data he or she creates.” The project began as an exploration of market alternatives in response to the lack of federal data protections in the United States, an issue that has sparked renewed interest since the Supreme Court struck down. Roe v. Wade.

Our technological landscape follows more than many realize, as Shoshana Zuboff describes in astonishing detail on every page of The era of surveillance capitalism: “Real-world activity is continuously represented from phones, cars, streets, houses, shops, bodies, trees, buildings, airports and cities to the digital realm, where it finds new life as data ready to transform -se in predictions”. The association of data capture with pregnancy specifically has a strange media history. In 2012, Target faced a public relations scandal when certain purchases associated with a woman’s browsing profile led the company to send her pregnancy-related coupons, revealing her condition to his family. Digital traces feed predictive algorithms that are used as evidence, although the algorithms themselves remain black boxes because they constitute trade secrets for the corporations behind them.

Data brokers capture and sell location, health, and personal data that police and others use to harass, misinform, and criminalize pregnant women, including the Border Patrol, the FBI, the IRS and the Secret Service have contracts. with data brokers, an alternative to the time-consuming effort of seeking legal orders. Anti-abortion groups have partnered with fertility health apps to identify users whose devices reveal their geolocation near a reproductive care clinic. The groups then try to target them with ads and misinformation while they sit in a waiting room surfing online. Information entered on reproductive health self-reporting applications is not protected by HIPAA, nor are companies providing travel support for abortion care unless it is managed by a health insurance company.

Online searches are just some of the data being mined by law enforcement with the rise of digital forensics. Latice Fisher in Mississippi was arrested, tried and jailed for miscarriage because she had looked up abortion information online; the prosecutor submitted that as evidence he had committed feticide. In July 2022, criminal charges of self-induced abortion were filed against 17-year-old Clarice Burgess based on a search warrant for her Facebook messages where she had spoken to her mother about her condition. In general, anyone using apps or websites should be cautious. (Health and Human Services has a fact sheet for consumers to better understand the public nature of the information put into applications.)

People can produce data, but not own or protect it, leading to broad privacy issues. Political scientists, economists, computer scientists and lawyers, among others, have been in favor of interpreting personal data as property. They argue that the rise of data analytics reinforces how data is an “asset created, manufactured, processed, stored, transferred, authorized, sold and stolen” and dispute the argument that data’s lack of material substance affects their real and abstract relationship. to each person Alongside this academic debate, a host of companies emerged to help people profit from their personal data, naturalizing this notion of ownership. The 360ofMe data exchange aims to centralize and contextualize personal information to help users cultivate greater self-awareness and target the sale of that information. The CitizenMe app offers users opportunities to earn rewards from businesses and charities that need data. helps users aggregate personal data to knowingly share with responsible companies. BitClave uses blockchain technology to secure personal data, manage access and enable sales opportunities.

The “data as property” argument tilts toward the market to alter the rights and regulations that affect tech companies that sweep up data about who produces it. But does it work? Morone took the aspirations of these intermediaries as an opportunity to investigate the potential of a free market solution. The results were disappointing.

Corporate Closure

When tech companies sweep up personal data from our walking and commuting across multiple locations, they may not know how they’ll use the data, but they do recognize its inherent value once it’s fused, analyzed, and packaged for sale to advertisers and others. . Everything we’re doing online, and everything we’re tracking offline, is an economic opportunity for businesses somewhere. The value? Over $1.5 billion, because now we’re all the six million dollar man.

Because corporations can claim trade secrets, Morone decided to resist widespread data capture by incorporating, so the company, JLM Inc., contains the intellectual property and activities of the human Morone. If a corporation can be a person, maybe a person could be a corporation and thus protect their data! The articles of incorporation allow Morone’s data to be considered intellectual property and are therefore intended to provide data marketplace protections. The privacy of the Morone human is possible because it is the product and trade secret of the company, JLM Inc., which is incorporated in the state of Delaware. With its own Court of Chancery that hears cases related to corporate law, Delaware’s legal structure is business-friendly. The state also does not collect corporate taxes from those doing business outside the state or tax “intangible assets” such as data.

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