Consumer Privacy and the Future of Society
in The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy, Eds. Evan Selinger, Jules Polonetsky and Omer Tene (2018)
21 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 8, 2018
In the course of a single day, hundreds of companies collect massive amounts of information from individuals. Sometimes they obtain meaningful consent. Often, they use less than transparent means. By surfing the web, using a cell phone and apps, entering a store that provides Wi-Fi, driving a car, passing cameras on public streets, wearing a fitness device, watching a show on a smart TV or ordering a product from a connected home device, people share a steady stream of information with layers upon layers of hardware devices, software applications, and service providers. Almost every human activity, whether it is attending school or a workplace, seeking healthcare or shopping in a mall, driving on a highway or watching TV in the living room, leaves behind data trails that build up incrementally to create a virtual record of our daily lives. How companies, governments, and experts should use this data is among the most pressing global public policy concerns.
At a time when fake news influences political elections, new and contentious forms of machine to-machine communications are emerging, algorithmic decision-making is calling more of the shots in civic, corporate, and private affairs, and ruinous data breaches and ransomware attacks endanger everything from financial stability to patient care in hospitals, “privacy” has become a potent shorthand. Privacy is a boundary, a limiting principle, and a litmus test for identifying and adjudicating the delicate balance between the tremendous benefits and dizzying assortment of risks that insight-filled data offers.
Consequently, far from what a first glance at the title of this volume might lead readers to expect, the Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy critically explores core issues that will determine how the future is shaped. To do justice to the magnitude and complexity of these topics, we have asked contributors to address as many parts and perspectives of the consumer privacy debate as possible. How we, all of us, collectively grapple with these issues will determine the fate of technology and course of humanity.
Keywords: privacy, data protection, algorithmic decision making, algorithms, artificial intelligence, ethics
JEL Classification: K10, K23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation