Group Privacy

Volume 126 of the series Philosophical Studies Series pp 37-66


Group Privacy in the Age of Big Data

  • Lanah KammouriehAffiliated withData-Pop Alliance Email author 
  • , Thomas BaarAffiliated withData-Pop Alliance
  • , Jos BerensAffiliated withData-Pop Alliance
  • , Emmanuel LetouzéAffiliated withData-Pop AllianceThe Data-Pop Alliance / MIT Media Lab
  • , Julia ManskeAffiliated withData-Pop Alliance
  • , John PalmerAffiliated withData-Pop Alliance
  • , David SangokoyaAffiliated withData-Pop Alliance
  • , Patrick VinckAffiliated withData-Pop Alliance

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Until now, privacy protections have focused on guaranteeing individuals a measure of control over information relating to themselves. However, in the digital age, this protection has become less effective since data is constantly collected and stored in ways that make it difficult for the individual to have control over each piece of information. Furthermore, the information communicated by an individual, when processed in conjunction with other data points, may allow potentially harmful inferences to be drawn about other individuals and the groups to which they may belong. The potential of Big Data to harm groups, particularly in fragile contexts or areas of weak statehood, therefore raises a number of questions which this chapter seeks to explore: is there such a thing as group privacy, distinct from individual privacy? Is group privacy a workable concept? If so, should it be a legally enforceable right and how can it be protected? We begin by exploring various concepts of privacy and group; then discuss how to affirm and protect group privacy through a combination of traditional levers of power and better data management, security, and literacy.


Privacy Group privacy Human rights Group rights Discrimination Bias Algorithmic transparency