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What Your “Algorithmic Citizenship” Says About Your Web Habits

Forget passport stamps, browser plugin Citizen-Ex determines your online nationality to show how the internet really works.

image via citizen ex

Despite all the time we spend online, many—if not most—of us are woefully underinformed when it comes to the internet’s basic structure. What, for example, do we mean when we say we’re “visiting” a website? Can browsing the internet cause us to cross physical international boundaries, simply by clicking our way from site to site? How does our nationality affect the way we experience cyberspace, and, in turn, the way cyberspace regards us as users?


These are the questions raised by Citizen Ex, a new project from British author and technologist James Bridle. Co-comissioned by the Southbank Art Centre and The Space, a partnership between the Arts Council England, and the BBC, Bridle’s Citizen Ex is a browser plug-in that shows users the countries in which the websites they visit actually reside.

The Citizen Ex homepage explains:

Every time you connect to the internet, you pass through time, space, and law. Information is sent out from your computer all over the world, and sent back from there. This information is stored and tracked in multiple locations, and used to make decisions about you, and determine your rights. These decisions are made by people, companies, countries and machines, in many countries and legal jurisdictions. Citizen Ex shows you where those places are.

Your Algorithmic Citizenship is how you appear to the internet, as a collection of data extending across many nations, with a different citizenship and different rights in every place. One day perhaps we will all live like we do on the internet. Until then, there's Citizen Ex.

The concept of Algorithmic Citizenship is what’s truly at the heart of Citizen Ex. By highlighting the nation of origin for each of the websites a user visits, Citizen Ex offers a snapshot of how that person’s internet usage is viewed by web-services, companies, and even governments. Again, the Citizen Ex homepage:

More often, your Algorithmic Citizenship is decided without you being aware of the decision, or the consequences. Government surveillance agencies like the NSA and GCHQ use your Algorithmic Citizenship to decide whether to spy on you. For example, the NSA is not allowed to spy on US citizens, so they use browsing data to assign a percentage score to everyone on the internet. If that score drops below 50% American, then they can record them: different laws apply to them, even if they don't know anything about them except how they behave online. This is also Algorithmic Citizenship.

After downloading the Citizen Ex browser extension, users are given a simple breakdown of their browsing habits based on the countries hosting the websites that user visits. It’s a revelatory peek at not only personal usage trends, but at how—and where, physically in the world, as opposed to abstract cyberspace—the internet functions.

image via citizen ex

Beyond personal usage, however, Citizen Ex also seeks to educate and explore the stories behind certain internet nationalities. To that end, the site is in the process of publishing a series of essays examining six top-level domains, starting with Scotland’s “.scot,” and ending with the Cayman Island’s “.cym.”

Will tracking your algorithmic citizenship change your browsing habits? Perhaps. Or perhaps it will simply help you understand the digital pathways that take us all across borders and through nations, as we continue to shop, chat, learn, and live online. Either way, it offers a unique look at the mechanized workings of the digital world in which we’ve immersed ourselves, often without any idea of what that truly entails.

Citizen Ex is free to download for the Chrome, Safari, and Firefox web browsers. To learn more about the project, including how the service keeps your data secure (in short, data is entirely anonymized, and stored locally on your device and your device only), visit Citizen-Ex.com.

Happy informed browsing!

[via motherboard]

Articles

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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The Planet