It's Personal But is it Mine? Toward Property Rights in Personal Information
73 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2005
It's Personal But Is It Mine? Toward Property Rights in Personal Information discusses the disturbing erosion of privacy suffered by the American society in recent years due to citizens' loss of control over their personal information. This information, collected and traded by commercial enterprises, receives almost no protection under current law. I argue that, in order to protect privacy, individuals need to secure control over their information by becoming its legal owners.
In this article, I confront two fundamental questions that have not been specifically addressed in the privacy literature before: why property is the most appropriate regime for regulating rights in personal information, and why individuals have a stronger moral claim to personal information than its collectors. Recognizing that individual rights may not be absolute, I further propose a way to balance them with rights of collectors and public at large, explore a range of legal and practical implications the new rules may create, and make suggestions regarding the enforcement of information privacy rights.
Keywords: privacy, personal information
JEL Classification: K10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation