Privacy in the Family
In Beate Roessler and Dorota Mokrosinska (eds.), Social Dimensions of Privacy: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (pp. 104-121). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.
18 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2014 Last revised: 6 Mar 2018
Date Written: 2015
While the balance between individual privacy and government monitoring or corporate surveillance has been a frequent topic across numerous disciplines, the issue of privacy within the family has been largely ignored in recent privacy debates. Yet privacy intrusions between parents and children or between adult partners or spouses can be just as profound as those found in the more “public spheres” of life. Popular access to increasingly sophisticated forms of electronic surveillance technologies has altered the dynamics of family relationships. Monitoring, mediated and facilitated by practices of both covert and overt electronic surveillance, has changed the nature of privacy within the family. Parents are tracking children via GPS-enabled cell phone tracking software and are monitoring the Internet use of family members. Parents, siblings, and children are also posting information about their family members online, often without consent, and are creating social media profiles for others online. Prior scholarly work in philosophy and law has primarily addressed the privacy of children from third parties, usually commercial entities, and in the context of making medical decisions. Less attention has been directed at exploring a more general right of privacy of one family member against parents, siblings, children, or spouses. In this article, we do just that. We consider several moral rules that determine appropriate privacy boundaries within the family. More specifically, we will consider when overt or covert surveillance of a child, spouse, or partner by an adult family member is morally permitted.
Keywords: privacy, surveillance, family, information ethics, ethics, morality, moral, law
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