posted Sep 02, 2003
in Communication Ethics

Communication Ethics book part for Privacy Legal Machinery. (This is an automatically generated summary to avoid having huge posts on this page. Click through to read this post.)

The most interesting thing about this analysis is that it almost directly parallels the arguments for having the whole concept of intellectual property in the first place. Ethically, people must own their privacy sensitive information, there is a value loss if the privacy-sensitive information is stolen (sometimes value not measurable in mere money), we must have fine-grained control over this information. It should be easily seen that privacy-sensitive information is just information, like anything else, and as such, constitutes concrete parts which can be used to create messages, with all that implies.

This is a powerful mechanism for understanding the great variety of ways in which privacy-sensitive information can be abused. There would be no e-mail spam in the world were it not for the ability of smart expressions to take a list of email addresses, which are privacy-sensitive bits of information, and send emails to each one, a simple attack not possible before the computer era. If it wasn't for the great interconnectedness of modern databases, a simple error in one credit history database would not be able to screw up a person's life for months or years at a time.


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