Why Privacy Matters

Many people tell us that privacy is dead, or that it is dying, but such talk is a dangerous fallacy. This book explains what privacy is, what privacy isn’t, and why privacy matters. Privacy is the extent to which human information is known or used, and it is fundamentally about the social power that human information provides over other people.

The best way to ensure that power is checked and channeled in ways that benefit humans and their society is through rules—rules about human information. And because human information rules of some sort are inevitable, we should craft our privacy rules to promote human values.

The book suggests three such values that our human information rules should promote: identity, freedom, and protection. Identity allows us to be thinking, self-defining humans; freedom lets us be citizens; while protection safeguards our roles as situated consumers and workers, allowing us, as members of society, to trust and rely on other people so that we can live our lives and hopefully build a better future together.

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