Jennifer Lyn Morone: Corporations are collecting and profitting from our data

JLM Inc, still from "Meeting Minutes" JLM Inc, still from "Meeting Minutes"

"I am Jennifer Lyn Morone Inc and I have established a new business model that is designed to determine the value of an individual relative to society and to the data he or she creates."

This is how the artist, and now also a corporation, Jennifer Lyn Morone introduces her project, which was presented at Drugo more Gallery in Rijeka during June/July 2017.

In 2014 in Delaware she registered herself as Jennifer Lyn Morone™ Inc. and she is the founder, CEO, shareholder and product using her own resources. This model enabled her to advance into the next stage of capitalism and turn her health, genetics, personality, capabilities, experience, potential, virtues and vices into profit.

In a world where everything has a price, this unusual corporation was kind enough to talk to Vox Feminae for free; after all, many companies give free promotions to attract potential buyers. So it's just smart business!

This project started as part of your master’s degree at London’s Royal College of Art, but has turned into something much bigger. What was the motivation behind it?

Fundamentally, I wanted to raise awareness among the public at an international level about the internet-driven monetisation of personal data, the unfair rights afforded to large corporations, and the potentially disastrous political consequences of voluntary, unthinking participation in use of modern communication and lifestyle technologies.

I was really frustrated and disgusted by where we have let ourselves go as a society, particularly in the USA. I started looking at our behaviors and questioned how they are changing with the Internet and use of digital technologies. I developed a healthy distrust of big companies (corporations) and grew skeptical of their services and products we use on a frequent basis. Concerned with the growing financial inequalities and the precarious nature of labour it just seemed evident that we are on a path fated for failure.

I was in my second year of my Master’s and I was fearful of not being able to find work after; had difficulty in identifying any value I could offer; and Edward Snowden’s revelations came out… So when I was set with the task to design a protest all of these things that were going on just came together to form this project.

When everybody that listened to Snowden’s revelations focused in on the privacy issue I tried to understand why companies were so interested in our data. And look at where we are today - it is such a valuable resource. Then I thought, “Wait, I am creating that data, and it has value, real value. Why aren’t the people, the public, the beneficiaries of that value?” It’s as if we’ve been tapped, like land to get oil, and are being sapped of all that they can get from us. Technological development is focused on getting more. Great minds are employed just to figure out how to keep us giving up more data. It feels like “they” finally found the perfect, constantly renewable and manipulatable resource.

Who are “they”?

When I looked into who the companies were that were profiting off of our data, i found that “they” were all large corporations, and all a very specific type of corporation - C-Corps registered in the state of Delaware, USA. This led me to look at what corporations actually are and the discovery was that they are considered people in the eyes of the law, that they have gradually been fighting for more rights and getting their way for a long time, which amped up in successes over the past decade.

So, it seemed like the natural conclusion that if corporations can be people, then people can be corporations. And, like I say in the video, “if corporations can make money from information that I generate just from being alive, then so can I.”

What are some of the advantages of being a corporation (as opposed to being a private individual)?

In legal and corporate speak the advantages are “limited liability”, “tax benefits”, “subsidies”, “property and asset acquisition”, “the ability to raise capital”, and the list goes on.

However, I really don’t like the term “advantages” in this case. Corporations just have rights and practices that they shouldn’t have - structures like this and the people running them should not be allowed. When we say “advantages” we are praising tax evasion, granting ownership by stealing something someone or thing else created, not being accountable for any harm done, and prioritizing making a small group of rich people richer at any expense, among other psychopathic behavior. So I don’t really see these as “advantages” - I see them as reckless and ruthless behavior that should not be allowed.

You offer a variety of products and services, ranging from biological and physical to intellectual. You sell, for example, different data packages related to your life (financial, health, character, etc.) and diamonds produced from your hair. On the other hand, your urine is for free – at least until the demand increases. Which, to you, is the most bizarre or disturbing thing you offer?

What I actually find the most bizarre and disturbing products are the data because, for the most part, it is going to be used to manipulate you. I think we should all be disturbed by this and do all we can to change this reality.

Available data sets, Jennifer Lyn Morone

Does Jennifer Lyn Morone, the private person, still exist?

This is a complicated question. It depends on what you mean exactly by “private”, “person”, and “existing”. I, Jennifer Lyn Morone, still use this name in various ways as a natural person. And it is also now the legal identity (name) of a legal person. By private - do you mean is Jennifer Lyn Morone, the person, hold things back from the public? If I am offline and far from obvious surveillance I do feel like I am experiencing private moments, but whether they are truly private I cannot be sure of.

There is the corporation Jennifer Lyn Morone, Inc and the private individual that kind of share the same space. They exist together in my mind, thoughts and actions but often separately on paper. Sometimes I am removed from myself, it is hard to explain.

I am as sure I exist as sure as you believe you do. As a living and breathing human body I am still here. If I never dissolve the corporation then that Jennifer Lyn Morone will exist when I will not.

In the video, you are wearing an oversized men's business suit. What does that figure represent?

The business suit has become the uniform for the executive positions - also called “bullshit jobs”. When I think of a corporation I think of people wearing suits and using papers around and talking about money, more money - at least at the executive level. Putting on this suit is like how Sigourney Weaver stepped into the exoskeleton in the movie Aliens. She steps into the opponent’s (who she seeks to destroy) outfit - and uses it as a shield and sword. This is what I am doing with the corporate container and I wanted to say that with the business suit uniform. The bull dog clips in the back symbolized the fact that I don’t really fit this role or this role doesn’t really fit me.

Ripley operating an exoskeleton, Aliens (1986)

You were born in the US and are registered as a corporation in the US, but you also studied and lived in Europe. In your experience, how does extreme capitalism differ in the US and Europe?

It is much more of an advanced reality in the USA than in Europe. In the US there is no social safety net, so extreme forms of capitalism are taking root. People brand themselves, are figuring out how they can be of value, are focused on property and “passive income”, and are all about money. Sometimes it really seems like people over here (USA) equate wealth with goodness.

The public is still quite unaware of the value and misuse of their personal data and the laws that protect individuals’ data in the EU does not apply in the USA…only corporations and companies can protect the data that they collect and then own. In Europe (of course not every country is the same) there are social safety nets, citizens are compelled to pay their taxes because they have systems that provide real services such as education and health care, etc., so it would be nice if Europe doesn’t let itself follow the States down the same hole. We will see.

 

Zadnja izmjena: 05-07-2017 @ 14:54