and Communication Technology
E59.1200.007 Integrating Liberal Arts
Instructor: Helen Nissenbaum,
Department of Culture and Communication
January 25, 1999, Scott McNealy, chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems,
told a group of reporters and analysts on January 25, 1999, at the launch of
Sun’s new Jini technology, “You have zero privacy anyway, get over it.”
McNealy’s comment reflects what many people believe,
namely that technology, in particular, new media -- computers, information
technology, and digital electronic networks -- have dramatically and
irrevocably diminished our privacy. The picture, in fact, is far more complex.
This course is a critical study of the multi-faceted relationship between
privacy and technology. We will study
technical innovations as well as new applications of old technologies that have
caused alarm, from photography, cheap printing, and wire-taps to databases,
video surveillance cameras, biometrics, and the Internet; we will also take
note of technologies that have been offered as “antidotes.” We will study the
people, practices, institutions, and vested interests that have supported the
application of these technologies to observe people, store information about
them, and hold them accountable for their actions. We will review prominent
social, legal, and moral value.
Reader may be purchases from MacDougal Copy Center, 127 MacDougal Street (betw.
W3 & W4). Call before going: 212-460-8591. Almost all readings are
contained in the course reader. Others are accessible online, including
resources provided by key websites devoted to privacy.
Weston, A, A Rulebook for Arguments. 3rd.
edition (Indianapolis: Hackett
Publishing Company, 2000)
Requirements and Grading Policy
are expected to attend all classes and complete assigned readings prior to
class meetings. Grades for the course will be assessed according to three
criteria: participation (in-class and online), examination, and short essays. To pass the class, students pass each of
the three elements.
30% Participation (attendance, and in-class
and online participation)
25% Final Examination (based on readings)
45% Essays (Three short essays)
Available Through Blackboard.
homepage regularly for syllabus updates, useful external links, and announcements.
An online discussion board provides a venue posting questions, ideas,
observations, relevant news items, and more.
January 26: Introduction to the
February 2: Overview of
Contemporary Privacy Landscape
explore the broad range of privacy issues raised by technological advances and
new applications of existing technologies.
Readings from drafts of first paper.
- Lester, Toby “The Reinvention
of Privacy,” The Atlantic Monthly,
March 2001, 31-39
- Stanley, Jay and Steinhardt,
Barry, “Bigger Monster, Weaker Chains: The Growth of an American
Surveillance Society,” ACLU
Technology and Liberty Program, January 2003.
- Brin, David. “Chapter 3:
Privacy Under Siege.” The
Transparent Society. (Reading: Addison-Wesley, 1998). 3-26
February 9: Anonymity and
anonymous is, strictly speaking, to be unnamed. Anonymity is sometimes
considered an important aspect of privacy but it can also be dangerous. With
the advent of new technologies of identification,
anonymity may be increasingly difficult to achieve in an information age.
1) Decide whether anonymous postings should be allowed; 2) Is caller-ID a good
- Froomkin, A. Michael. “Legal Issues in Anonymity and Pseudonymity.”
The Information Society. (Volume 15, Number 2: April-June 1999).
- Clarke, Roger A. “Human
Identification in Information Systems: Management Challenges and Public
Policy Issues”, Information
Technology & People 7, 4 (December 1994) 6-37 http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/DV/HumanID.html
- Agre, Philip “Your face is Not
a Bar Code: Arguments Against Automatic Face Recognition in Public Places”
- Ashborn, Julian (1999) “The
Biometric White Paper.”
- Brey, Philip, Ethical Aspects
of Facial Recognition Systems in Public Places (unpublished manuscript)
February 16: Surveillance and
surveillance is seen as the answer to much insecurity, especially in the wake
of terror and crime. The United Kingdom has embraced this technology with great
enthusiasm and, it appears, little public objection.
Map video surveillance cameras in Washington Square Park.
- Bentham, J.. The Panopticon Writings. Edited by
Miran Bozovic (London: Verso, 1995) 31-34
- Rosen, Jeffrey. “A Watchful
State.” The New York Times Magazine,
October 7, 2001. 38-43, 85,92,93.
- Parenti, Christian, The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America.
New York: Basic Books, 2003 Chapter 8: “Camera Land: Security Aesthetics
and Public Space,”
- Farmer, Dan, and Charles C.
Mann. “Surveillance Nation,” Technology Review May 2003, pp.
- Foucault, M. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the
Prison (trans. By A. Sheidan) New York: Vintage, 1995, Chapter 3:
- DeCew, Judith. In Pursuit of Privacy. (Ithaca:
Cornell University Press, 1997). 125-144.
February 23: Databases
When computers came to serve not only as calculators but
as information processors, it was not long before their powers to store,
organize, manipulate and analyze information about people were exploited. In
many cases, the ends were good. But, worries of “big brother” were increasing
on people’s minds, along with a sense that something needed to be done to
control their proliferation and growth.
What do we mean by “public records?” Provide some examples.
- Summary and Recommendations
from Records, Computers, and the
Rights of Citizens. Report of
the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data
Systems. U. S. Department of
Health, Education & Welfare.
(Copyright by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1973).
- Froomkin, A. Michael, “The
Death of Privacy?” Stanford Law Review, Vol 52, 1461-1543 http://personal.law.miami.edu/~froomkin/articles/privacy-deathof.pdf (Read only 1461-1476)
- Westin, Alan and Michael Baker,
(1972) Databanks in a Free Society:
Computers, Record-Keeping and Privacy. (New York: Quadrangle/The New
York Times Book Co.) 3-5,15-20
- Privacy Basics: The OECD
- Westin, Alan F. Privacy and Freedom. (New York:
Atheneum, 1967) Excerpts
- Gandy, Oscar H. “Coming to Terms with the Panoptic
Sort.” Eds. David Lyon and Elia Zureik. Computers, Surveillance, and Privacy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1996. 132-155.
March 1: Privacy in the Past
Some people argue that we have more privacy today than
every before. Others suggest that privacy advocates are misdirected in their
quest because people are no longer interested in privacy. If people do not
care, should they still, nevertheless, be protected?
- Gotlieb, Calvin C.
“Privacy: A Concept Whose Time Has Come and Gone.” Eds. David Lyon
and Elia Zureik. Computers,
Surveillance, and Privacy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
- Allen-Castellitto, Anita L.
"Coercing Privacy." William and Mary Law Review 40,
- Smith, Janna Malamud. Private Matters. (New York:
Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Inc., 1997). 53-72, 235-243.
- Westin, Alan, “Social and
Political Dimensions of Privacy,” Journal of Social Issues, Vol59, No 2,
March 8: Medical and Genetic
healthcare depends on a vast body of knowledge, including the knowledge physicians
and other caregivers have about individual patients. This information is stored
and used. It is of great value to the patients themselves and to society at
large – public health and research. But many people feel that information about
their health is sensitive and personal and should not be widely shared. Are
they right? Should there be restraints on what information is gathered and how
it is used? Should genetic information be treated in unique ways?
- Goldman, Janlori. “Protecting
Privacy to Improve Health Care.” Health
Care. (November/December 1998.) 47-60.
- Read the latest about Federal
Rules applying to medical records on Health Privacy Project Website:
- Murray, Thomas H. “Genetic Exceptionalism and ‘Future Diaries’:
Is Genetic Information Different from Other Medical Information?” Genetic Secrets: Protecting Privacy and
Confidentiality in the Genetic Era.
Ed. Mark A. Rothstein. (New
Haven: Yale University Press, 1997).
- Alpert, Sheri, “Protecting Medical
Privacy: Challenges in the Age of Genetic Information,” Journal of Social
Issues, Vol59, No 2, 2003:301-322
- Kaiser, Jocelyn, “Population
Databases Boom, From Iceland to the U.S.” Science, 8 November, 2002:
- Garfinkel, Simson, “Database
Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century,” (Sebastopol,
CA: O’Reilly, 2000) Excerps.
March 15: Recess
March 22: Privacy and Law
Lecturer: Gaia Bernstein
has grappled with both conceptual and normative privacy issues. Pulled in
opposite directions by those, on the one hand, who see privacy as a distinctive
value and on the other, by those who see it as a hodge-podge of more
fundamental values, the law reveals complexity and confusion in its commitment
to privacy. We examine various sources of legal protection for privacy, and
will consider some of both the skeptical and committed positions.
- Bill of Rights at
- Warren, Samuel D. and Louis D.
Brandeis. “The Right to Privacy
[The Implicit Made Explicit].” Philosophical
Dimensions of Privacy: An Anthology.
Ed. Ferdinand Schoeman.
(New York: Cambridge U P, 1984).
- Prosser, William L. “Privacy” California Law Review, vol 48, no.3 August 1960, 383-424
- Solove, Daniel J. and Marc
Rotenberg “Information Privacy Law Cases and Materials” Aspen Publishing
co, 2002, pp. 19-20
- CSTB: Privacy Related
- Gellman, Robert. “Does Privacy
Law Work?” In Agre, Philip, and Marc Rotenberg. Technology and Privacy.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT
March 29: Philosophical
Conceptions of Privacy
What is privacy and why do we value it? These are the
basic questions philosophers have asked. The questions are important because
they provide reasons or justifications for heartfelt opinions on controversial
issues. We will see, however, why theorists and activists alike have found
privacy a challenging notion to grasp and defend. What interests and values
does privacy challenge and how do we settle important tradeoffs?
- Reiman, Jeffrey. “Driving to
the Panopticon: A Philosophical Exploration of the Risks to Privacy Posed
by the Highway Technology of the Future.” Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal. (Volume
11, Number 1: March 1995). 27-44.
- Gavison, Ruth. “Privacy and the Limits of Law.” The
Yale Law Journal (Vol. 89, No. 3: January 1980) 421-471.
- Nissenbaum, Helen. “Protecting Privacy in an Information
Age: The Problem of Privacy in Public.”
Law and Philosophy (Volume 17: 1998). 559-596.
April 5: Privacy, Communications and the
sometimes take for granted the privacy of our communications. We can whisper,
pass notes, even send things in the mail, and expect them to remain secret.
What can we expect, hope, or demand of our new communications technologies,
from telephones to landlines to cell phones to email?
Assignment: Look into cases where investigative reporters
have gone too far, violating privacy in the quest for a story? Are there cases
of the opposite, timidity where aggressive pursuit and publication would have been
socially more beneficial?
- Regan, Priscilla.
“Communication Privacy: Transmitting Our Message.” Legislating Privacy. (Chapel Hill: University of North
Carolina Press, 1995). Chapter 3
- Read about Carnivore and Magic
Lantern at EPIC.org
- Allen-Castellitto, Anita L.
"Privacy versus the Public’s Right to Know." Ed. Ruth Chadwick. The Encyclopedia of Ethical Issues in
Politics and the Media . San Diego, Calif.: Academic Press, 2000. 251-262.
- Volokh, Eugene “Personalization
and Privacy” from Communications of
the ACM 43(8), August 2000, page 84.
Rodney A. “Privacy and the First Amendment Right to Gather News,” George Washington Law Review, June/August
April 12: Online Privacy
world offers protection from much of the scrutiny of physical interaction –
others can’t see or hear us. They may not know us. Yet online transaction has
become increasingly a source of betrayal of our habits and origins. How so? And
what should we do about it?
- Committee on the Internet in
the Evolving Information Infrastructure, (2001) The Internet’s Coming of Age, Report of the Computer Science
and Telecommunications Board. Chapter 1, pp. 1-5
- Bennett, Colin J. “Cookies, Web
Bugs, Webcams, and Cue Cats: Patterns of Surveillance on the World Wide
Web.” Ethics and Information
Technology. (Volume 3, Number 3: 2001) 197-210.
- Online profiling (See EPIC)
- Smith, Marica, “Internet
Privacy: An Analysis of Technology and Policy Issues” Report of the
Congressional Research Service, December 2000
- Kang, Jerry. “Information Privacy in Cyberspace
Transactions.” Stanford Law Review.
50 (4), April 1998, pages 1193-1294, Excerpts.
April 19: Privacy and Efficiency
Critics of strong protection have argued that privacy
competes with other social values. Readings in this section make the case,
generally, for business efficiency as one of those countervailing values.
Solveig. “Privacy as Censorship: A
Skeptical View of Proposals to Regulate Privacy in the Private Sector.” Cato
Policy Analysis No. 295. (January
Richard. “An Economic Theory of Privacy” Reprinted in Philosophical Dimensions of Privacy: An Anthology. Ed. Ferdinand Schoeman. (New York: Cambridge U P, 1984)
Julie “DRM and Privacy” Communications of the ACM April 2003 Vole 46, No. 4:
M. and Bies, R. “Consumer Privacy: Balancing Economic and Justice
Considerations” Journal of Social Issues,
Vol59, No 2, 2003: 323-342
A. and Gandy, O. “All that Glitters is Not Gold: Digging Beneath the Surface of
Data Mining,” Journal of Business Ethics 40:373-386, 2002
April 26: Technical
Protections for Privacy
technology – databases, biometrics, genetics, surveillance cameras – is usually
understood as posing threats to privacy. But, here, we consider ways in which
information technology can serve to protect privacy.
- Levy, Stephen. “Crypto Rebels.” High Noon on the Electronic Frontier. Ed. Peter Ludlow. (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996). 185-205.
- Schneier, Bruce. “Cryptography Primer.” The
Electronic Privacy Papers. Ed.
Scheier and Banisar. (New York:
Wiley, 1997). 258-284.
- Reagle, Joseph and Cranor,
Lorrie. “The Platform for Privacy Preferences,.” Communications of the ACM. (Volume 42, Number 2: February
- Chaum, David. “Achieving Electronic Privacy.” Scientific
American 267 (2), 1992: 96-101
- Burkert, H. “Privacy Enhancing
Technologies: Typology, Critique, Vision” In Agre, Philip, and Marc
Rotenberg. Technology and Privacy:
The New Landscape. Cambridge,
Mass.: MIT Press, 1997: 125-142
- Marx, Gary. “A Tack in the
Shoe: Neutralizing and Resisting the New Surveillance,” Journal of Social Issues, Vol59, No
2, 2003: 369-390
May 3: Review