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Big Data and the Future for Privacy

Handbook of Research on Digital Transformations (Elgar 2016)

27 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2014 Last revised: 19 Jan 2016

Neil M. Richards

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law; Yale Information Society Project; Stanford Center for Internet and Society

Jonathan H. King

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Date Written: October 19, 2014

Abstract

In our inevitable big data future, critics and skeptics argue that privacy will have no place. We disagree. When properly understood, privacy rules will be an essential and valuable part of our digital future, especially if we wish to retain the human values on which our political, social, and economic institutions have been built. In this paper, we make three simple points. First, we need to think differently about "privacy." Privacy is not merely about keeping secrets, but about the rules we use to regulate information, which is and always has been in intermediate states between totally secret and known to all. Privacy rules are information rules, and in an information society, information rules are inevitable. Second, human values rather than privacy for privacy’s sake should animate our information rules. These must include protections for identity, equality, security, and trust. Third, we argue that privacy in our big data future can and must be secured in a variety of ways. Formal legal regulation will be necessary, but so too will "soft" regulation by entities like the Federal Trade Commission, and by the development of richer notions of big data ethics.

Keywords: Privacy, Big Data, Security, Ethics, Big Data Ethics

Suggested Citation

Richards, Neil M. and King, Jonathan H., Big Data and the Future for Privacy (October 19, 2014). Handbook of Research on Digital Transformations (Elgar 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2512069 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2512069

Neil M. Richards (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

Yale Information Society Project ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Stanford Center for Internet and Society ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

Jonathan H. King

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States

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