Privacy, Speech, and Values: What We Have No Business Knowing

37 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2016

See all articles by Adam D. Moore

Adam D. Moore

University of Washington - The Information School

Date Written: December 18, 2015


In the United States the ascendancy of speech protection is due to an expansive and unjustified view of the value or primacy of free expression and access to information (Moore 2010 Cha. 7, Hughes and Richards 2016, Solove and Richards 2007). This is perhaps understandable, given that privacy has been understood as a mere interest, whereas speech rights have been seen as more fundamental. I have argued elsewhere that mere interest view of privacy is false. Privacy, properly defined, is a necessary condition for human well-being or flourishing. The opening section of this article will provide an overview of this theory. Next, after a few remarks on speech absolutism, privacy absolutism, and balancing theories, I will sketch several of the dominant argument strands that have been offered in support of presumptively weighty speech rights. While these arguments, taken together, establish that free speech is important, they do not support the view that speech should nearly always trump privacy. In final section I will present and defend a way to balance free speech and privacy claims.

Keywords: privacy, privacy rights, freedom of expression, free speech, speech rights, privacy absolutism, privacy absolutists, speech absolutism, speech absolutists, privacy balancers, privacy balancing

Suggested Citation

Moore, Adam D., Privacy, Speech, and Values: What We Have No Business Knowing (December 18, 2015). Available at SSRN: or

Adam D. Moore (Contact Author)

University of Washington - The Information School ( email )

Box 352840
Mary Gates Hall, Ste. 370
Seattle, WA 98195
206.685.9937 (Phone)


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