A Poor Mother's Right to Privacy: A Review

30 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2018 Last revised: 19 Jan 2018

See all articles by Danielle Keats Citron

Danielle Keats Citron

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project; Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Date Written: January 11, 2018

Abstract

Collecting personal data is a feature of daily life. Businesses, advertisers, agencies, and law enforcement amass massive reservoirs of our personal data. This state of affairs—what I am calling the “collection imperative”—is justified in the name of efficiency, convenience, and security. The unbridled collection of personal data, meanwhile, leads to abuses. Public and private entities have disproportionate power over individuals and groups whose information they have amassed. Nowhere is that power disparity more evident than for the state’s surveillance of the indigent. Poor mothers, in particular, have vanishingly little privacy. Whether or not poor mothers receive subsidized prenatal care, the existential state of poor mothers is persistent and indiscriminate state surveillance.

Professor Khiara Bridges’s book, The Poverty of Privacy Rights, advances the project of securing privacy for the most vulnerable among us. It shows how the moral construction of poverty animates the state’s surveillance of poor mothers, rather than legitimate concerns about prenatal care. It argues that poor mothers have a constitutional right not to be known if the state’s data collection efforts demean and humiliate them for no good reason. The Poverty of Privacy Rights provides an important lens for rethinking the data collection imperative more generally. It supplies a theory not only on which a constitutional right to information privacy can be built but also on which positive law and norms can develop. Concepts of reciprocity may provide another analytical tool to understand a potential right to be as unknown to government as it is to us.

Keywords: Khiara Bridges, indigent mothers, privacy, personal data, due process, reciprocity, state surveillance, government assistance, right to information privacy

Suggested Citation

Citron, Danielle Keats, A Poor Mother's Right to Privacy: A Review (January 11, 2018). 98 Boston University Law Review (2018, Forthcoming); U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2018-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3100513

Danielle Keats Citron (Contact Author)

University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )

500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States

Yale University - Yale Information Society Project

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Palo Alto, CA
United States

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