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

4.4 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0804752374
ISBN-10: 0804752370
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[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
"This much anticipated book, written by one of the world's most brilliant, dynamic philosophers of technology, offers a model for predicting and explaining privacy breaches. It also furnishes pragmatic solutions for resolving policy disputes about newly proposed socio-technical information systems. It solves puzzles not easily resolved by traditional privacy theory, advances a coherent framework for rejecting the private/public dichotomy as the basis for the right to privacy, and contributes to a deeper understanding of judicial constructs used to resolve hard cases. Helen Nissenbaum has achieved what many of us have yearned for."—Ian Kerr, Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology, University of Ottawa

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).
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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: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #559,252 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author's conclusions run directly against the current developments in privacy law coming out of the EU, and are supportive of what one would call a pro-corporate view. As a CIPP certified attorney working in information governance, I do have an opinion on the matter, and think that American law needs to adjust and start looking at privacy as a right to control personal information AND have that access restricted. Had I bought this book when it came out, perhaps I would have given it 4 stars for the scholarship, but if you read it carefully the ideas attack the concept of "individual privacy" with respect to data in almost any way they can. It is troubling that this is the type of thinking currently adopted at the FTC as "newer." I took a course on data privacy law while at University of Miami School of Law in the early 2000's and have major problems with the authors core thesis. Even as a libertarian in some regards, I feel that data privacy should be afforded rights protection and regulated in some fashion as a human right - not through a hodgepodge of separate agencies and laws as it currently is with the FTC and others. To say that the current system is the right way - I'm not convinced by the artful legal writing. This book provides an example of what its like to take a law class with a professor who has an ideological bent: regulatory vs anti, and so forth. Annoyed that I bought this based on the already outdated thinking reflected in its contents, which ideologically opines that things are fine the way they are in a sense AND that we should put the topic of online data privacy rights and so forth to rest. Its propaganda in its own way.
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This is the best book I have read on the subject of privacy. It includes an examination of the philosophical, political, moral and technical aspects in a comprehensive yet not overwhelming way. There is little biases or editorializing. The book presents the facts with substance and depth that is refreshing and helpful in deciding what approach to privacy you may decide to adopt.
The book builds on fundamental concepts of privacy, provides examples and builds on legal and philosophical points of view. I am using this book to develop approaches to data privacy for a number of organizations.

If you work in the arena of data privacy or work with data you must read this book. If you are concerned or curious about the issues of data privacy you should read this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We have a right to privacy, but it is neither a right to control nor a right to access our own personal information. Instead, it is a right to an "appropriate flow of personal information." Opposite most defenses of privacy in the modern world, Nissenbaum dismisses any conversation about the hazards of private information in the public sphere. In fact, in her book, "Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life", Helen Nissenbaum tries to abolish the public/private dichotomy, instead stressing the importance of social norms in dictating how information is shared.
Nissenbaum studied philosophy from bachelors to doctoral, ending up a professor at New York University where she specializes in the philosophy and politics at technology. She laid the foundation for contextual privacy that the Federal Trade Comission has now begun to champion (http://www.ftc.gov/reports/preliminary-ftc-staff-report-protecting-consumer-privacy-era-rapid-change-proposed-framework). She continues to influence governmental and scientific bodies alike, lecturing on her contextual approach to privacy monthly.
But on to the book itself. Nissenbaum does not write to the casual reader—she takes an idea, dissects it, analyzes from several angles (usually citing other philosophers), slowly recreates the original intent in a new light, then masterfully summarizes it in her own way. The book is split into three parts—the first, which I found to be the most engaging section, was a keen description on how information technology has changed the way privacy can be violated. The second remains purely theoretical, describing alternate approaches to privacy and beginning Nissenbaum’s attack on the public/private dichotomy.
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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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Here is the news for you my dear Facebook, Twitter and Google users: The matrix is here and you're it. No, there is no physical tube for harvesting the energy from your body, but we are getting pretty close. Read this book and you'll start asking many questions. A real eye opener.
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