Privacy, Interests, and Inalienable Rights

41 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2018

See all articles by Adam D. Moore

Adam D. Moore

University of Washington - The Information School

Date Written: January 22, 2018


In essence, I argue for a middle path between viewing privacy as an inalienable, non-waivable, non-transferrable right and the view of privacy as a mere subjective interest that is largely unrelated to human health and well-being. First, I will sketch a position counter to the view that privacy is, and should be, understood as a mere unimportant preference, interest, or concern. An account of privacy will be offered that hopefully clarifies the concept, but also connects the view to human health and well-being. Against the view that privacy is unimportant and uninteresting, I will argue that we have clear reasons to carve up the privacy space in a particular way, and that once completed, there are compelling health-based or flourishing-based reasons to care about this conception of privacy.

Next, after sketching what is known as the 'traditional view' of rights alienation, relinquishing, waiving, forfeit, and abandonment, along with brief remarks about the distinction between specific and general rights, I will present the case for why privacy may be considered an inalienable right. On this line of argument, privacy is essential for human health and well-being and thus, like the right to life, should be viewed as inalienable and non-waivable. Nevertheless, I will argue that this view is mistaken and that individuals may waive privacy rights based on consent. It is also important to note that consent to access information does not entail consent to all downstream uses of this information. We should not view consent to waive privacy rights over some bit of personal information as a forfeiting or abandonment. Moreover, in taking responsibility for waiving, transferring or forfeiting access, individual control of private information should be aided, not undermined, by technology.

Keywords: privacy, privacy rights, inalienable rights, waiving rights, transferring rights, alienation

Suggested Citation

Moore, Adam D., Privacy, Interests, and Inalienable Rights (January 22, 2018). 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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