Mar 312013
 March 31, 2013  Misc

Babak Siavoshy writes:

The most vexing failure of privacy scholarship, in my opinion, is that “privacy advocates” have failed to articulate in simple terms (to the public or any other audience) the value of privacy and the harm from undermining it.

I’m not suggesting I can solve this problem, but I have some thoughts about its sources.  I think there are several reasons privacy harms and benefits are difficult to articulate, including the following:

(1) in addition to being an individual right, privacy is (in the most important ways) a collective or system-based right, and the harm from violating privacy rights and the benefits from protecting them are only apparent in the aggregate.  That makes these harms and benefits more difficult to articulate and conceive in simple terms.  In this sense, privacy is like voting — it may be a relatively small societal harm to prevent one person from voting, but restricting the right to vote will, in the aggregate, fundamentally harm the system we live in by undermining values like democratic accountability.

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