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Privacy as Contextual Integrity
Helen Nissenbaum
Department of Culture & Communications, NYU
http://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum
Overview
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What is privacy and why do we care about it (if we do)?
Definitions
Control versus Access
Descriptive versus normative
In search of a normative foundations for privacy “not a court of law
but a court of conscience…”
BUT … Conflicts, tradeoffs, balancing
Principles -- e.g. sensitivity of information
Problem: privacy in public (aggregation, data mining, etc.)
Solution: fight it out; interest politics; revert to dogmatism
Look for guidance at societal level
What is Privacy? …. Definitions
• Privacy is not simply an absence of information about us in the
minds of others; rather it is the control we have over information
about ourselves. --Charles Fried
• Privacy is a limitation of others’ access to an individual through
information, attention, or physical proximity. --Ruth Gavison
• Privacy is the right to control information about and access to
oneself. -- Priscilla Regan
• Common Law Right to Privacy (as characterized by Samuel Warren
and Louis Brandeis, 1890): An individual’s right of determining,
ordinarily, to what extent his thoughts, sentiments, and emotions
shall be communicated to others.
• "Privacy is the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to
determine for themselves when, how, and to what extend
information about them is communicated to others." (p. 7)
• "...privacy is the voluntary and temporary withdrawal of a person
from the general society through physical or psychological means,
either in a state of solitude or small-group intimacy or, when among
larger groups, in a condition of anonymity or reserve." (p. 7)
• Westin, Alan F. Privacy and Freedom. (New York: Atheneum, 1967)
Overview
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o
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What is privacy and why do we care about it (if we do)?
Definitions
Control versus Access
Descriptive versus normative
In search of a normative foundations for privacy “not a court of law
but a court of conscience…”
BUT … Conflicts, tradeoffs, balancing
Principles -- e.g. sensitivity of information
Problem: privacy in public (aggregation, data mining, etc.)
Solution: fight it out; interest politics; revert to dogmatism
Look for guidance at societal level
Privacy as Contextual Integrity
o Norms of Appropriateness determine what types of information
are/are not appropriate for a given context
o Norms of Distribution (Flow, transfer) determine the principles
governing distribution (flow, transfer) of information from one party to
another.
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S shares information with R at S’s discretion
R requires S to share information
R may freely share information about S
R may not share information about S with anyone
R may share information about S under specified constraints
Information flow is/is not reciprocal
Etc.
o Contextual Integrity, is respected when norms of appropriateness
and distribution are respected; it is violated when any of the norms
are infringed.
Questions
 Can we develop systematic ways to inform the
technical mission of privacy-preserving data
transactions (including data-mining) with contextual
norms?
 Meta-question: If this is a beginning, how do we
establish meaningful, ongoing conversation across the
disciplines -- despite vast differences in knowledgebases and methodologies?