Privacy Rights and Democracy: A Contradiction in Terms?

Contemporary Political Theory 5 (2):142-162 (2006)
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Abstract

This article argues that people have legitimate interests in privacy that deserve legal protection on democratic principles. It describes the right to privacy as a bundle of rights of personal choice, association and expression and shows that, so described, people have legitimate political interests in privacy. These interests reflect the ways that privacy rights can supplement the protection for people's freedom and equality provided by rights of political choice, association and expression, and can help to make sure that these are, genuinely, democratic. Feminists have often been ambivalent about legal protection for privacy, because privacy rights have, so often, protected the coercion and exploitation of women, and made it difficult to politicise personal forms of injustice. However, attention to the differences between democratic and undemocratic forms of politics can enable us to meet these concerns, and to distinguish a democratic justification of privacy rights from the alternatives

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Annabelle Lever
SciencesPo, Paris