Four kinds of privacy

It’s hard to talk about ‘privacy’ without more precise language, so I’m posting this as a good start.

writes in The Social Filter, ‘In the introduction to The Offensive Internet, a collection of essays about online privacy issues, editors Martha Nussbaum and Saul Levmore list four distinct ways to conceive of the stakes of privacy:

There is the value of seclusion, which is the right to be beyond the gaze of others. There is intimacy, in which one chooses with whom to share certain information and experiences. There is also the interest in secrecy, which is to information as seclusion is to the physical person. And then there is autonomy, which is the set of private choices each person makes.’

And from the same article: ‘From Facebook’s perspective, privacy is a kind of transaction cost weighing on “peer productivity” within its vertically integrated social factory. Giving users apparent control over privacy settings pacifies their concerns and elicits more voluntary labor from them.’

And ‘As Woodrow Hartzog and Evan Selinger point out in their chapter on “Obscurity and Privacy” for the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Technology, “Even if one keeps a relatively obscure digital trail, third parties can develop models of your interests, beliefs, and behavior based upon perceived similarities with others who share common demographics.” Regardless of what you have chosen to share, you can always be modeled more broadly. Companies like Facebook can ascribe simulated, probable data points to you, which will become factors in the way other institutions treat you, regardless of whether those probabilities are realities.’

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