Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life

By Helen Nissenbaum | Go to book overview

9 Privacy Rights in Context:
Applying the Framework

THE CENTRAL THESIS OF THE FRAMEWORK OF CONTEXTUAL integrity is that what bothers people, what we see as dangerous, threatening, disturbing, and annoying, what makes us indignant, resistant, unsettled, and outraged in our experience of contemporary systems and practices of information gathering, aggregation, analysis, and dissemination is not that they diminish our control and pierce our secrecy, but that they transgress context-relative informational norms. These norms preserve the integrity of the social contexts in which we live our lives, and they support and promote the ends, purposes, and values around which these contexts are oriented. In this chapter I discuss whether and how well contextual integrity addresses issues that other theories cannot, whether it avoids some of their pitfalls and blind alleys, whether it allays some of the cynic's jibes, and, most importantly, whether it sheds light on daily encounters with systems and practices that individually diminish privacy and, considered in aggregate, imply that privacy might be a quaintly old-fashioned value with no place in this so-called information age.


Puzzles, Paradoxes, and Trade-Offs

Privacy skeptics' arguments, reviewed in Chapter 6, questioned the seriousness of people's commitment to privacy when their observed behaviors regularly contradict expressed concerns and give little evidence that they share

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