The moral value of informational privacy in cyberspace

Ethics and Information Technology 3 (2):129-135 (2001)
Solutions to the problem ofprotecting informational privacy in cyberspacetend to fall into one of three categories:technological solutions, self-regulatorysolutions, and legislative solutions. In thispaper, I suggest that the legal protection ofthe right to online privacy within the USshould be strengthened. Traditionally, inidentifying where support can be found in theUS Constitution for a right to informationalprivacy, the point of focus has been on theFourth Amendment; protection in this contextfinds its moral basis in personal liberty,personal dignity, self-esteem, and othervalues. On the other hand, the constitutionalright to privacy first established by Griswoldv. Connecticut finds its moral basis largelyin a single value, the value of autonomy ofdecision-making. I propose that an expandedconstitutional right to informational privacy,responsive to the escalating threats posed toonline privacy by developments in informationaltechnology, would be more likely to find asolid moral basis in the value of autonomyassociated with the constitutional right toprivacy found in Griswold than in the varietyof values forming the moral basis for the rightto privacy backed by the Fourth Amendment.
Keywords autonomy  cyberspace  European Union Data Protection Directive  informational privacy  moral value of privacy  online privacy  privacy rights  technology  US Constitution
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