Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


Nur Lalji


Every day, we make a series of tradeoffs between privacy and convenience. We may check our email, post on social media, use the free Wi-Fi in public spaces, or take our cellphones with us wherever we go without a clear understanding of what information we are giving away when we do so. Increasingly, we are seeing products that claim to defy this opaqueness associated with big data and put users at the helm of their information. These "featurized" products wrap themselves in a data empowerment narrative, but ultimately erode individual privacy in new ways, sometimes even capitalizing on it. This article seeks to explore the concept of featurization further—where it came from, what it is, and how featurized products are currently being regulated. The article will end by proposing some recommendations for balancing the innovation that featurization can bring while ensuring individuals' privacy rights are adequately protected.

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