Is privacy privacy?

Kobbi Nissim, Alexandra Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

This position paper observes how different technical and normative conceptions of privacy have evolved in parallel and describes the practical challenges that these divergent approaches pose. Notably, past technologies relied on intuitive, heuristic understandings of privacy that have since been shown not to satisfy expectations for privacy protection. With computations ubiquitously integrated in almost every aspect of our lives, it is increasingly important to ensure that privacy technologies provide protection that is in line with relevant social norms and normative expectations. Similarly, it is also important to examine social norms and normative expectations with respect to the evolving scientific study of privacy. To this end, we argue for a rigorous analysis of the mapping from normative to technical concepts of privacy and vice versa. We review the landscape of normative and technical definitions of privacy and discuss specific examples of gaps between definitions that are relevant in the context of privacy in statistical computation. We then identify opportunities for overcoming their differences in the design of new approaches to protecting privacy in accordance with both technical and normative standards. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'The growing ubiquity of algorithms in society: implications, impacts and innovations'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20170358
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Volume376
Issue number2128
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Differential privacy
  • Formal privacy models
  • Informational privacy
  • Privacy law

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mathematics (all)
  • Engineering (all)
  • Physics and Astronomy (all)

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