In this thoughtful post on “Values Alligned Technology,” Lucy Bernolz has shone a spotlight on some of the fictions of consent that we have been living with for the past couple of decades.

The related question that I had grappled with over the past decade was “Which values may be shared so broadly that we should be baking them into digital architecture itself.”

Ms. Bernolz touched upon the one value that seems to be most core — actual agency for individual users. Not just lip service. Not just a fiction of consent, but actual consent. At the same time, in order to minimize the difference in transaction costs in interactions between individuals (which currently bear the full weight of making an informed decision all within a single interaction) and institutions (which can split that cost over thousands or even millions of interactions), individuals will need to be able to collaborate with others — and that ends up resulting in some form of “delegated consent.”

The pressure to give users greater granular control over their data in interactions with large firms will only come when the power of users more closely matches that of the institutions in each interaction.

Architecture (whether in the form of protocols or ancillary applications) can make a huge impact in that regard.