May 212015
 May 21, 2015  Misc

Orin Kerr writes:

Ben Wittes and Jodie Liu have posted an interesting new paper, The Privacy Paradox: The Privacy Benefits of Privacy Threats, that discusses how new technologies that many think of as threatening privacy are also at the same time a boon to privacy. An excerpt:

In thinking about big data and digital technologies as a one-way, privacy-eroding street, we are grossly oversimplifying the true nature of the technology-privacy interface. Just as the door is not a pure privacy gain, few technologies involve pure privacy loss. The Internet, after all, is not simply a series of surveillance technologies. Surveillance capabilities, rather, are largely collateral consequences of the main point: the opening up of new communications channels. And those new channels involve, in the first instance, privacy gain—or, rather, a series of privacy gains— because they enable greater choice about how individuals communicate with one another. Create phone lines for the first time and you create the possibility of remote verbal communication, the ability to have a sensitive conversation with your mother or uncle or lawyer from a distance. It is only against the baseline of that privacy gain that you can measure the loss of privacy associated with the sudden possibility of wiretapping.

Read more on The Volokh Conspiracy.

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