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Privacy in the Shadow of Nanotechnology


One of the more salient concerns about nanotechnology is the fear that it will harm privacy by collecting personal information and distributing it. This sentiment is complicated by the fact that the specific nanotechnologies that might affect privacy are located more in the near future than in the present, so our knowledge of them is more speculative than empirical. To come to terms with these issues, we will need both knowledge of the science – what is realistic and what is not – and a sense of the on-going discourses on privacy and technology that are likely to frame feelings about nanotech.

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I am grateful to Duncan Buell, Barbara Costa, Ron Eglash and Cynthia Needham for insightful comments. An anonymous reviewer gave some very good ideas about reorganizing my original draft. The material in this paper is based on work supported by two awards from the National Science Foundation, 0304448 and 0531160. Any opinions expressed in this material are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Correspondence to Chris Toumey.

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Toumey, C. Privacy in the Shadow of Nanotechnology. Nanoethics 1, 211–222 (2007).

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  • Nanosensors
  • Medical diagnostics
  • Privacy
  • Sousveillance
  • Surveillance