Putting Online Privacy Above the Fold: Building a Social Movement and Creating Corporate Change
ACLU of Northern California
June 5, 2012
New York University Review of Law & Social Change, Vol. 36, 2012
Online privacy issues are now “above the fold,” both literally and figuratively. Consumers, companies, and policymakers increasingly think about collection and control of personal information, and the media prominently highlights these issues. But there is very little scholarship that reflects on the factors that have contributed to this recent increase in attention. And there is a dearth of scholarship that specifically analyzes how privacy advocates have started to face and overcome the challenges typical to building and sustaining any type of social movement, as well as challenges that make collective action around privacy issues particularly difficult, such as informational disparities and behavioral tendencies. This article provides a behind-the-scenes analysis of how recent factors have enabled the privacy community to create the climate necessary for a social movement to start to coalesce — a movement that can keep issues of online privacy above the fold in sustained ways and support real online privacy reform. The article assesses two recent privacy incidents, and it highlights how the privacy community has been able to mobilize—based on these incidents — to move beyond piecemeal responses and start to build a social movement and influence corporate change. Finally, the article identifies remaining obstacles that must be overcome for the movement to be successful and suggests a focus for legal and policy work to meet these challenges.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 67
Keywords: privacy, online, social, movement, technology
Date posted: June 13, 2012