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Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life (Stanford Law Books) [Paperback]

by Helen Nissenbaum
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 24, 2009 0804752370 978-0804752374
Privacy is one of the most urgent issues associated with information technology and digital media. This book claims that what people really care about when they complain and protest that privacy has been violated is not the act of sharing information itself—most people understand that this is crucial to social life —but the inappropriate, improper sharing of information.

Arguing that privacy concerns should not be limited solely to concern about control over personal information, Helen Nissenbaum counters that information ought to be distributed and protected according to norms governing distinct social contexts—whether it be workplace, health care, schools, or among family and friends. She warns that basic distinctions between public and private, informing many current privacy policies, in fact obscure more than they clarify. In truth, contemporary information systems should alarm us only when they function without regard for social norms and values, and thereby weaken the fabric of social life.

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Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life (Stanford Law Books) + Understanding Privacy + Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff between Privacy and Security
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Editorial Reviews


"[S]ubtle and important . . . There is no doubt that Nissenbaum thinks with the learned . . Before the book appeared Nissenbaum's work on privacy was already well respected and widely cited. The present book should seal her reputation as one of a handful of leading privacy theorists today. My guess is that the book will be required reading for a long while to come for all who want to make significant contributions to the debate about the ethics of privacy."—Tony Doyle, Journal of Value Inquiry

"[Privacy in Context] takes the privacy discourse several steps ahead. Nissenbaum sets an ambitious goal and accomplishes it in grand fashion. She proposes a detailed framework to better understand privacy issues and assist in prescribing privacy policies that meets the needs of the 21st century . . . [T]he book breaks new paths. It signals the beginning of a new privacy paradigm (an assessment that will be easier judged in hindsight) and is an important contribution to the growing law and technology literature."—Michael D. Birnhack, Jurimetrics

"Nissenbaum has written a badly needed and accessible book that can serve as a guide through the emerging digital maze without demanding that we surrender our right to privacy in return... Her book offers a straightforward and articulate account of the role that privacy plays in a democratic society, the ways in which technology undermines it, and the steps we need to take to ensure that we don't succumb to the faulty logic of data-hungry corporations."—Evgeny Morozov, Times Literary Supplement

"This book provides a refreshing, contemporary look at information privacy in the twenty-first century. Nissenbaum persuasively argues that privacy must be understood in its social context, and she provides an insightful and illuminating account of how to do so. For anyone considering the burgeoning problems of information privacy, Privacy in Context is essential reading." —Daniel J. Solove, George Washington University Law School and author of Understanding Privacy

"Privacy in Context is a major achievement. It is rare for anyone to come into a field so well plowed and make a genuine contribution. Grounded in extensive knowledge of the theoretical literature and a real engagement with the practicalities of informational instability that surround us, Nissenbaum's new framing of the tensions raised by surveillance and processing of information is important. Practical and oriented to the world and its social practices, rather than to abstractions or formal claims, contextual integrity is a concept both rich and detailed, with which any serious debate about privacy in the networked environment must now engage."—Yochai Benkler, Harvard University

About the Author

Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, and Computer Science and Senior Fellow of the Information Law Institute at New York University. She is the coeditor of Academy and the Internet (2004) and Computers, Ethics, and Social Values (1995), and the author of Emotion and Focus (1985).

Product Details

  • Series: Stanford Law Books
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford Law Books (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804752370
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804752374
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An authority on privacy January 9, 2014
By J. McG.
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book for law school and really enjoyed it. It was one of three books we read for the class (all of which I have reviewed), and this one was my favorite. It was the most comprehensive and most well-written of the three. I would highly recommend this to any person interested in becoming more knowledgeable about his/her privacy matters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent framework January 5, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got to Nissenbaum's book via other, less lucid works that cited her. This book looks at the fuzzy, hard to nail down concept of privacy and presents a very useful framework for what constitutes privacy violations and why we think our privacy has been violated sometimes, and not others.

Her framework will not map to actual law, the process of regulation is too idiosyncratic and reactive for that. But it will help technologists, marketers and consumer advocates understand when and why we feel firm or government's actions have overstepped the bounds and violated our privacy expectations.
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5.0 out of 5 stars instant classic December 1, 2012
By J. Hall
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Helen surveys previous efforts to understand privacy and comes up with her own, based on the integrity of contexts within which data flows, whether we consent or not. Very few books have changed how much we collectively think about privacy as this book has done.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great thorough look at privacy November 29, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved it. Very in depth, but also highly readable for an academic text. Concept of privacy as dynamic expectations and meeting certain expectations for certain purposes (contextual) rather than static for all-of-time is convincing.
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