Attributes, and Transmission Principles
OBSERVING HOW PRIVACY NORMS VARY ACROSS AND WITHIN social groups, some critics have concluded that privacy is at best a culturally relative predilection rather than a universal human value. The framework of contextual integrity begins with the same observation, but draws a different conclusion; there is, indeed, great complexity and variability in the privacy constraints people expect to hold over the flow of information, but these expectations are systematically related to characteristics of the background social situation. Once these characteristics are factored into an account of privacy expectations (hereafter referred to as norms of information flow), the law-like character of these privacy expectations, or norms, is much more evident. Variability in norms, in other words, is far from idiosyncratic or arbitrary. The heart of the framework of contextual integrity is an elaboration of its key construct: context-relative informational norms. Context-relative informational norms function descriptively when they express entrenched expectations governing the flows of personal information, but they are also a key vehicle for elaborating the prescriptive (or normative) component of the framework of contextual integrity. In this chapter I introduce key notions of a context and an informational norm and elucidate the descriptive component of the framework of contextual integrity.
In the course of people's lives we act and transact not simply as individuals in an undifferentiated social world, but as individuals acting and transacting in certain capacities as we move through, in, and out of a plurality of distinct