Privacy in the Political System: Perspectives from Political Science and Economics
Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) component of the Human Genome Project, U.S. Department of Energy, 2001
69 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 1, 2001
This is a review that was originally written for a collection that was to have been edited and published by the late Alan F. Westin on the various social science contributions to the study of privacy. This paper was drafted in the late 1990s and funded through the Ethical, Legal and Social Issues (ELSI) component of the Human Genome Project. It was substantially revised in 2001. Obviously the literature in these fields has changed dramatically as the Internet has flourished and personal data is now more widely circulated and traded with enormous political, social and economic consequences. But the kinds of scholarly questions addressed and reviewed in this paper perhaps remain constant. What does the tradition of political theory contribute to the debate about the appropriate "balance" between privacy interests on the one hand, and wider societal and community obligations on the other? What is the relationship between attitudes toward privacy and political culture and ideology? What can political science tell us about the nature and extent of surveillance? What can political science (and particularly the study of bureaucratic behavior) tell us about the relationship between technology and politics? When privacy is viewed as a regulatory issue, what does the response to it tell us about the way that different states manage technological change? And how can privacy be analyzed on the basis of economics or public choice assumptions?
Keywords: privacy, data protection, political science, economics
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