Advertisement

Group Privacy: A Defence and an Interpretation

  • Luciano FloridiEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 126)

Abstract

In this chapter I identify three problems affecting the plausibility of group privacy and argue in favour of their resolution. The first problem concerns the nature of the groups in question. I shall argue that groups are neither discovered nor invented, but designed by the level of abstraction (LoA) at which a specific analysis of a social system is developed. Their design is therefore justified insofar as the purpose, guiding the choice of the LoA, is justified. This should remove the objection that groups cannot have a right to privacy because groups are mere artefacts (there are no groups, only individuals) or that, even if there are groups, it is too difficult to deal with them. The second problem concerns the possibility of attributing rights to groups. I shall argue that the same logic of attribution of a right to individuals may be used to attribute a right to a group, provided one modifies the LoA and now treats the whole group itself as an individual. This should remove the objection that, even if groups exist and are manageable, they cannot be treated as holders of rights. The third problem concerns the possibility of attributing a right to privacy to groups. I shall argue that sometimes it is the group and only the group, not its members, that is correctly identified as the correct holder of a right to privacy. This should remove the objection that privacy, as a group right, is a right held not by a group as a group but rather by the group’s members severally. The solutions of the three problems supports the thesis that an interpretation of privacy in terms of a protection of the information that constitutes an individual—both in terms of a single person and in terms of a group—is better suited than other interpretations to make sense of group privacy.

Keywords

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Data protection data ethics Individual privacy Group privacy 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to Massimo Durante for his most valuable comments on a previous draft of this article; to Ugo Pagallo and the participants in the panel “Open Data and Data Protection: Problems and Perspectives”—organised at the conference Computers, Privacy and Data Protection 2014 (CPDP 2014) Reforming Data Protection: The Global Perspective—for their feedback; to the participants in the workshop on group privacy held in Amsterdam on the 8th of September 2014 for valuable discussions; to David Sutcliffe for his skilful copyediting of the final version and many insightful comments that improved it significantly; and to Linnet Taylor for her feedback on a penultimate draft of this chapter, and some enlightening conversations on the topic of group privacy. Her chapter in this volume makes a strong and convincing case for the protection of group privacy in contexts of geolocated data, especially in LMICs (see also (Taylor 2016)).

Bibliography

  1. Beebee, H., and N. Sabbarton-Leary. 2010. The semantics and metaphysics of natural kinds, Routledge studies in metaphysics. New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Bisaz, C. 2012. The concept of group rights in international law: Groups as contested right-holders, subjects and legal persons. Leiden: Brill, Nijhoff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bloustein, E.D.J. 1978. Individual and group privacy. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Bloustein, E.J. 2003. Individual & group privacy, 2nd ed. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  5. Campbell, J.K., M. O’Rourke, and M.H. Slater. 2011. Carving nature at its joints: Natural kinds in metaphysics and science, topics in contemporary philosophy. Cambridge/London: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. COM. 2012. 10 Final 2012/0010 (COD). Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Protection of Individuals with Regard to the Processing of Personal Data by Competent Authorities for the Purposes of Prevention, Investigation, Detection or Prosecution of Criminal Offences or the Execution of Criminal Penalties, and the Free Movement of Such Data/* Com/2012/010 Final – 2012/0010 (Cod) */Google Scholar
  7. Directive 95/46/EC. Directive 95/46/Ec of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the Protection of Individuals with Regard to the Processing of Personal Data and on the Free Movement of Such Data.Google Scholar
  8. European Commission. Justice, data protection, glossary, data subject: Http://Ec.Europa.Eu/Justice/Data-Protection/Glossary/Index_En.Htm.
  9. Fineman, M.A., and R. Mykitiuk (eds.). 1994. The public nature of private violence: The discovery of domestic abuse. London/New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Floridi, L. 2003. Informational realism. In Selected papers from conference on computers and philosophy-Volume 37,eds. J. John Weckert and Y. Al-Saggaf, 7–12. Australian Computer Society.Google Scholar
  11. Floridi, L. 2013. The ethics of information. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Floridi, L. 2014. The fourth revolution – How the infosphere is reshaping human reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Groves, P., B. Kayyali, D. Knott, S., and van Kuiken. 2013. The ‘big data’ revolution in healthcare. McKinsey Quarterly.Google Scholar
  14. Howe, D., M. Costanzo, P. Fey, T. Gojobori, L. Hannick, W. Hide, D.P. Hill, R. Kania, M. Schaeffer, and S. St Pierre. 2008. Big data: The future of biocuration. Nature 455(7209): 47–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Khalidi, M.A. 2013. Natural categories and human kinds: Classification in the natural and social sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. LaPorte, J. 2004. Natural kinds and conceptual change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Mittelstadt, B., and L. Floridi. 2016. The ethics of big data: Current and foreseeable issues in biomedical contexts. Science and Engineering Ethics 22(2): 303–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mittelstadt, B., Floridi, L. eds. forthcoming-b. The ethics of biomedical big data, law, governance and technology. New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  19. Oderberg, D.S. 2013. Classifying reality. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Panchen, A.L. 1992. Classification, evolution, and the nature of biology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Richards, R.A. 2010. The species problem: A philosophical analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Salinger, J.D. 1951. The catcher in the rye. London: H. Hamilton.Google Scholar
  23. Taylor, L. 2016. No place to hide? The ethics and analytics of tracking mobility using mobile phone data. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 34(2): 319–336.Google Scholar
  24. Warren, S., and L. D. Brandeis. 1890. The right to privacy. Harvard Law Review 193(4).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oxford Internet InstituteUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

Personalised recommendations