Respect for context as a benchmark for privacy online: What it is and isn't

Helen Nissenbaum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In February 2012, the Obama White House unveiled a Privacy Bill of Rights, embedded in a comprehensive report, Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World: A Framework for Protecting Privacy and Promoting Innovation in the Global Digital Economy (2012: 9). In addition to the Bill of Rights, the Report's Framework for Protecting Privacy laid out a multi-stakeholder process, articulated foundations for effective enforcement, pledged to draft new privacy legislation, and announced an intention to increase interoperability with international efforts (Civil 2012). The White House report was but one among several governmental studies and reports in the US and elsewhere (e.g. Federal Trade Commission 2012; World Economic Forum 2012) responding to increasingly vocal objections to information practices above and below the radar that were so out of control that in 2010 the Wall Street Journal, sentinel of business and commercial interests, launched a landmark investigative series What They Know, which doggedly revealed to readers remarkable and chilling activities ranging from ubiquitous online monitoring to license plate tracking and much in between (Angwin and Valentino-Devries 2012; Valentino-Devries and Singer-Vine 2012). The dockets of public interest advocacy organizations were filled with privacy challenges. Courts and regulatory bodies were awash with cases of overreaching standard practices, embarrassing gaffes, and technical loopholes that enabled surreptitious surveillance and the capture, aggregation, use, and dispersion of personal information. As awareness spread, so did annoyance, outrage, and alarm among ordinary, unsophisticated users of digital and information technologies as they learned of practices such as Web-tracking, behavioral advertising, surveillance of mobile communications, information capture by mobile apps (including location), capture of latent and revealed social network activity, and big data. Most salient to individuals are practices of familiar actors, with which they are directly acquainted, such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Yelp, and Apple.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSocial Dimensions of Privacy
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Perspectives
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781107280557
ISBN (Print)9781107052376
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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