The Transparent Citizen

27 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2015 Last revised: 7 Mar 2016

Date Written: October 14, 2015


This article shows that the transparency of personal information online through ubiquitous data collection and surveillance challenges the rule of law both domestically and internationally. The article makes three arguments. First, the transparency created by individuals’ interactions online erodes the boundary between public and private information and creates a “transparent citizen.” Second, the transparent citizen phenomenon undermines the state’s faithfulness to the ideals of the rule of law and to citizens’ respect for the rule of law. Transparency enables government to collect and use personal information from the private sector in ways that circumvent traditional political and legal checks and balances. Transparency encourages the development of anonymity tools that empower wrong-doers to evade legal responsibility and the rule of law. And, transparency puts national security, public safety and legal institutions at risk in ways that will jeopardize and corrode the public’s faith in the rule of law. Third and lastly, transparency challenges international norms and data flows. National data privacy law is anchored in local constitutional culture and the transparency of personal information across borders creates deep-seated political instability that will only be resolved through political treaties.

Keywords: privacy, transparency, rule of law, surveillance, transborder data flow, Europe, data protection

Suggested Citation

Reidenberg, Joel R., The Transparent Citizen (October 14, 2015). Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 47, 2015, Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2674313, Available at SSRN:

Joel R. Reidenberg (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

140 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States
212-636-6843 (Phone)
212-930-8833 (Fax)


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