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

By Helen Nissenbaum | Go to book overview

8 Breaking Rules for Good

CONTEXTUAL INTEGRITY HAS BEEN PROPOSED AS A JUSTIFICATORY framework for evaluating in moral and political terms the myriad new technology-based systems and practices radically affecting the flow of personal information. Despite the proliferation and virtual ubiquity of these technologies, systems, and practices and the institutions that have grown around them, the preeminent legal and moral conceptions of privacy seem out of step with the contours of public reaction, either by underplaying certain anxieties or exaggerating them. One important approach, discussed in Chapter 5, which has sought to delineate a coherent but more limited conception of privacy by planting theoretical and normative roots of privacy in the conceptual apparatus of the public/private dichotomy, dismisses many of the complaints as irrelevant to privacy. Another, also discussed in Chapter 5, although revealing deep and subtle connections between privacy and other important moral and political values, rarely gives enough direction on how to respond to challenges posed by countervailing values and interests that have motivated the new information practices in the first place.

Addressing some of these limitations and plumbing the layers of social structure more deeply, the framework of contextual integrity introduced in Chapter 7 holds that context matters to the demands of privacy, as well as a number of critical parameters defining the flow of information. According to the framework, these factors affect our experience of a practice and, conse-

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