Profiling and the Identity of the European Citizen

  • Mireille Hildebrandt

Building on the fact that profiling technologies produce a new type of knowledge that will influence the lives of individual citizens in numerous ways, this chapter will elaborate the implications for the identity, subjectivity and agency presumed by constitutional democracy. After a brief excursion into the architecture of our European ‘Rechtsstaat’, the centrality of the human person of flesh and blood will be explored and its relationship with the legal persona and citizenship. The legal persona - a constitutive feature of this ‘Rechtsstaat’ - will be explained in terms of the negative freedom (freedom from) and the positive freedom (freedom to) that it creates for citizens to participate in public and social life and to retreat into their private and intimate relationships (with significant others and with themselves). The privacy that may be at stake with the advance of highly sophisticated profiling technologies concerns freedom to coconstruct one’s own identity in the face of feedback from the social and material environment. Apart from the outright abuse of profiles, e.g., discrimination, unauthorised use or violation of the presumption of innocence, one of the questions raised will be whether advanced, real time and ubiquitous customisation will be heaven or hell for a sustainable vital democracy.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mireille Hildebrandt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Vrije Universiteit BrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Erasmus Universiteit RotterdamThe Netherlands

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