From public data to private information: The case of the supermarket

In Maria Bottis (ed.), Proceedings of the 8th International Conference Computer Ethics: Philosophical Enquiry. Corfu, Greece: Nomiki Bibliothiki. pp. 500-507 (2009)
Abstract
The background to this paper is that in our world of massively increasing personal digital data any control over the data about me seems illusionary – informational privacy seems a lost cause. On the other hand, the production of this digital data seems a necessary component of our present life in the industrialized world. A framework for a resolution of this apparent dilemma is provided if by the distinction between (meaningless) data and (meaningful) information. I argue that computational data processing is necessary for many present-day processes and not a breach of privacy, while collection and processing of private information is often not necessary and a breach of privacy. The problem and the sketch of its solution are illustrated in a case-study: supermarket customer cards.
Keywords privacy  data  information  big data  data protection
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