Privacy, democracy and the politics of disease surveillance

Public Health Ethics 1 (1):30-38 (2008)
Abstract
Fairchild, Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health Abstract Surveillance is a cornerstone of public health. It permits us to recognize disease outbreaks, to track the incidence and prevalence of threats to public health, and to monitor the effectiveness of our interventions. But surveillance also challenges our understandings of the significance and role of privacy in a liberal democracy. In this paper we trace the century-long history of public health surveillance in the United States situating that history in the context of the broad social, political, and ideological forces that have shaped our conceptions of privacy. Although we focus here on the United States, the debates over privacy that unfolded in the 1960s were repeated in many European nations. The themes we explore here, then, provide a framework for examining the relationship between privacy and public health in other contexts. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
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