The Liberal Value of Privacy

Law and Philosophy 29 (5):505-534 (2010)
This paper presents an argument for the value of privacy that is based on a purely negative concept of freedom only. I show that privacy invasions may decrease a person’s negative freedom as well as a person’s knowledge about the negative freedom she possesses. I argue that not only invasions that lead to actual interference, but also invasions that lead to potential interference (many cases of identity theft) constitute actual harm to the invadee’s liberty interests, and I critically examine the courts’ reliance on a principle of ‘no harm, no foul’ in recent data breach cases. Using a number of insights from the psychology of human belief, I also show that the liberal claim for protection of privacy is strengthened by the observation that often the privacy invader cannot be held responsible for the influence on the invadee’s negative freedom.
Keywords Philosophy   Logic   Political Science   Social Sciences, general   Law Theory/Law Philosophy   Philosophy of Law
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DOI 10.1007/s10982-010-9067-9
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