Privacy Rights and Public Information

Journal of Political Philosophy 27 (1):3-25 (2018)
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This article concerns the nature and limits of individuals’ rights to privacy over information that they have made public. For some, even suggesting that an individual can have a right to privacy over such information may seem paradoxical. First, one has no right to privacy over information that was never private to begin with. Second, insofar as one makes once-private information public – whether intentionally or unintentionally – one waives one’s right to privacy to that information. In this article, however, we suggest the moral situation is more complicated than this. Rather, we argue that there is a class of public information – namely, once-private information that individuals have made public unintentionally – which remains within the scope of an individuals’ right to privacy, even when it has passed into the public domain. Significantly, this class includes any information rights-holders were unaware could be inferred from information they have made public and which they would not otherwise have wanted to be in the public domain. As we show, as well as clarifying several everyday dilemmas with regards to individuals’ privacy rights, this finding has elucidates a number of problems in the ethics of Big Data.



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Author Profiles

James Wilson
University College London
Benedict Rumbold
Nottingham University

Citations of this work

Privacy rights and ‘naked’ statistical evidence.Lauritz Aastrup Munch - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (11):3777-3795.
Inferences and the Right to Privacy.Jakob Mainz - forthcoming - Journal of Value Inquiry:1-19.
Two Concepts of Group Privacy.Michele Loi & Markus Christen - 2020 - Philosophy and Technology 33 (2):207-224.
Privacy Rights Forfeiture.Mark Hanin - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 22 (2).

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References found in this work

The right to privacy.Judith Jarvis Thomson - 1975 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 4 (4):295-314.
What Is the Right to Privacy?Andrei Marmor - 2015 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 43 (1):3-26.
Concealment and Exposure.Thomas Nagel - 1998 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 27 (1):3-30.
Privacy, morality, and the law.W. A. Parent - 1983 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 12 (4):269-288.
Privacy: Its Meaning and Value.Adam D. Moore - 2003 - American Philosophical Quarterly 40 (3):215 - 227.

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