Privacy in Context
Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life
By Helen Nissenbaum
(Stanford Law Books, Paperback, 9780804752374, 288pp.)
Publication Date: November 2009
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Arguing that privacy concerns should not be limited solely to concern about control over personal information, Helen Nissenbaum counters that information ought to be distributed and protected according to norms governing distinct social contextswhether it be workplace, health care, schools, or among family and friends. She warns that basic distinctions between public and private, informing many current privacy policies, in fact obscure more than they clarify. In truth, contemporary information systems should alarm us only when they function without regard for social norms and values, and thereby weaken the fabric of social life.
"[S]ubtle and important . . . There is no doubt that Nissenbaum thinks with the learned . . Before the book appeared Nissenbaum's work on privacy was already well respected and widely cited. The present book should seal her reputation as one of a handful of leading privacy theorists today. My guess is that the book will be required reading for a long while to come for all who want to make significant contributions to the debate about the ethics of privacy."—Tony Doyle, Journal of Value Inquiry
"[Privacy in Context] takes the privacy discourse several steps ahead. Nissenbaum sets an ambitious goal and accomplishes it in grand fashion. She proposes a detailed framework to better understand privacy issues and assist in prescribing privacy policies that meets the needs of the 21st century . . . [T]he book breaks new paths. It signals the beginning of a new privacy paradigm (an assessment that will be easier judged in hindsight) and is an important contribution to the growing law and technology literature."—Michael D. Birnhack, Jurimetrics
"Nissenbaum has written a badly needed and accessible book that can serve as a guide through the emerging digital maze without demanding that we surrender our right to privacy in return... Her book offers a straightforward and articulate account of the role that privacy plays in a democratic society, the ways in which technology undermines it, and the steps we need to take to ensure that we don't succumb to the faulty logic of data-hungry corporations."—Evgeny Morozov, Times Literary Supplement
"This book provides a refreshing, contemporary look at information privacy in the twenty-first century. Nissenbaum persuasively argues that privacy must be understood in its social context, and she provides an insightful and illuminating account of how to do so. For anyone considering the burgeoning problems of information privacy, Privacy in Context is essential reading." —Daniel J. Solove, George Washington University Law School and author of Understanding Privacy
"Privacy in Context is a major achievement. It is rare for anyone to come into a field so well plowed and make a genuine contribution. Grounded in extensive knowledge of the theoretical literature and a real engagement with the practicalities of informational instability that surround us, Nissenbaum's new framing of the tensions raised by surveillance and processing of information is important. Practical and oriented to the world and its social practices, rather than to abstractions or formal claims, contextual integrity is a concept both rich and detailed, with which any serious debate about privacy in the networked environment must now engage."—Yochai Benkler, Harvard University