Internet Privacy and the Public-Private Distinction
Posted: 1 Dec 1998
Although there are numerous discussions of internet privacy issues, almost all of them view the internet as the only relevant variable. This paper argues that the internet may affect our conception of privacy as well. More specifically, the traditional conceptions of the issue maintain that the internet may affect privacy issues by increasing the quantity and ease of invasions of privacy, or by making forms of privacy invasion possible that were previously unimaginable. Yet privacy itself is, as the Supreme Court has put it, a matter of "reasonable expectations," and the internet and related developments may dramatically change our conception of what is public and what is private. Unless we realize that the internet changes our expectations of privacy, and makes much of life more public, we will not be able to understand the way the internet changes our conception of privacy as much, if not more than, it changes the way in which privacy might be invaded.
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