A Rational Response to the Privacy 'Crisis'

The Cato Institute, Policy Analysis #716, January 7, 2013

36 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2013 Last revised: 20 Feb 2013

See all articles by Larry Downes

Larry Downes

Larry Downes Consulting Group

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 7, 2013


With over a dozen bills pending in both the U.S. and E.U. to "solve" the privacy crisis, perhaps it's time to take a step back and ask some fundamental questions about information management in the age of big data. Why does "private" information evoke visceral policy responses? Is there a rational model for evaluating information exchange and value? Is intellectual property law the model to apply to personal information, or would licensing work better?

This paper, part of the Cato Institute's Policy Analysis series, traces the historical origins of the "creepy factor" as a conflict between America's Puritan and frontier origins. It rejects the IP model for personal information and recommends instead a licensing approach -- which is largely in place today.

Keywords: privacy, intellectual property, licensing, information, search, creepy factor

JEL Classification: K21, K23, L11, L41, L52, L96

Suggested Citation

Downes, Larry, A Rational Response to the Privacy 'Crisis' (January 7, 2013). The Cato Institute, Policy Analysis #716, January 7, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2200208 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2200208

Larry Downes (Contact Author)

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