How Data Can Be Used Against People: A Classification of Personal Data Misuses
18 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2021 Last revised: 31 Dec 2021
Date Written: December 30, 2021
Even after decades of intensive research and public debates, the topic of data privacy remains surrounded by confusion and misinformation. Many people still struggle to grasp the importance of privacy, which has far-reaching consequences for social norms, jurisprudence, and legislation. Discussions on personal data misuse often revolve around a few popular talking points, such as targeted advertising or government surveillance, leading to an overly narrow view of the problem. Literature in the field tends to focus on specific aspects, such as the privacy threats posed by ‘big data’, while overlooking many other possible harms. To help broaden the perspective, this paper proposes a novel classification of the ways in which personal data can be used against people, richly illustrated by real-world examples. Aside from offering a terminology to discuss the broad spectrum of personal data misuse in research and public discourse, our classification provides a foundation for consumer education and privacy impact assessments, helping to shed light on the risks involved with disclosing personal data.
Keywords: Privacy, Data protection, Personal data, Surveillance, Discrimination, Harms, Consequences
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation