The Limits of
Many solutions to the problems of privacy and information are market-based, relying on property rights or contractual default rules to regulate the flow of information. Does the market already adequately protect privacy? Or can the market, with minor tinkering, develop effective privacy protection? Or must a more radical reconstruction of the market be undertaken?
Property Rights and Contract. The notion of “control of personal information” is one of the most dominant conceptions of privacy. As privacy expert Alan Westin declares: “Privacy is the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others.”1 Numerous other scholars embrace this definition.2
Theorists who view privacy as control over information frequently understand it within the framework of property and contract concepts. This is not the only way control can be understood, but the