New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Remarks by Steinhardt’s Nissenbaum Incorporated Into Recent White House Online Consumer Privacy Bill

April 13, 2012

On Feb. 22, 2012, the Obama Administration unveiled the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, articulating clear expectations regarding the way companies handle the collection and use of personal information. Recent problems include iPhone and Android apps that upload a phone’s entire contact list to app companies’ servers, surreptitious collection of consumer information during transactions both online and off, and frequent alterations in company privacy policies.

Last year, Steinhardt professor of media, culture, and communication Helen Nissen-baum, along with her post-doctoral fellows Kenneth Farrall and Finn Brunton, submitted a statement following the administration’s request for public comment on the Department of Commerce’s report on consumer privacy. The recently enacted Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights cites Nissenbaum’s book, “Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life,” as well as the trio’s public words.

“We referenced the theory of privacy as contextual integrity,” says Nissenbaum. “According to this theory, at the heart of privacy is the expectation that personal information will flow appropriately, which, in turn, is determined by the type of information, who is receiving it, and the constraints under which it is shared. Many of the companies that the Privacy Bill of Rights addresses are using information technologies and digital media in ways that have radically disrupted expected information flows. These have become so complex that the companies themselves are hardly able to understand them, let alone all of us directly affected by these practices.”

So why should consumers care about such legislation?

“Individuals can be harmed by inappropriate collection and distribution of information,” says Nissenbaum. “Our freedom and autonomy may be abridged, we may suffer unfair discrimination, and many social institutions, as fundamental as democracy, may be threatened if norms of privacy are not respected.”

Type: Article

Remarks by Steinhardt’s Nissenbaum Incorporated Into  Recent White House Online Consumer Privacy Bill

Search News



NYU In the News

Entrepreneurship Lab Opens at NYU

Crain’s New York Business covered the opening of the Mark and Debra Leslie Entrepreneurial eLab, which will be the headquarters for NYU’s Entrepreneurial Institute and all of the University’s programs aimed at promoting innovation and startups.

A Globalizer for N.Y.U. in Abu Dhabi

The New York Times profiled Bill Bragin who will become the first executive artistic director of NYU Abu Dhabi’s new performing arts center.

Think Tank to Ponder a Future for Ballet

The New York Times profiled Jennifer Homans, the director of NYU’s new Center for Ballet and the Arts.

The Brilliant Ten: Jonathan Viventi Builds Devices That Decode Thoughts

Popular Science named Assistant Bioengineering Professor Jonathan Viventi as one of its “brilliant ten” for his research into brain implants that could one day halt epileptic episodes:

Living and Leaving the Dream: Adrian Cardenas’ Journey from the Major Leagues to College

The New York Times ran a feature on Adrian Cardenas, a former major league baseball player who is now studying philosophy and creating writing at NYU.

NYU Footer