Privacy Is Power

London, UK: Penguin (Bantam Press) (2020)
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Abstract

Selected by the Economist as one of the best books of 2020. Privacy Is Power argues that people should protect their personal data because privacy is a kind of power. If we give too much of our data to corporations, the wealthy will rule. If we give too much personal data to governments, we risk sliding into authoritarianism. For democracy to be strong, the bulk of power needs to be with the citizenry, and whoever has the data will have the power. Privacy, I argue, is not a personal preference; it is a political concern. I also argue that personal data is a toxic asset, and should be regulated as if it were a toxic substance, similar to asbestos. I call for a complete ban to the trade in personal data. The book is at once philosophical and political, and extremely practical and accessible. It discusses liberal democracy, equality, justice, and autonomy. It includes a chapter for policymakers, and one that addresses what ordinary citizens can do to protect privacy. Finally, the book covers the tension between privacy and public health in the context of covid19.

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Carissa Véliz
University of Oxford

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