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PHILOSOPHICAL THEORIES OF PRIVACY: IMPLICATIONS FOR AN ADEQUATE ONLINE PRIVACY POLICY

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Abstract

Abstract: This essay critically examines some classic philosophical and legal theories of privacy, organized into four categories: the nonintrusion, seclusion, limitation, and control theories of privacy. Although each theory includes one or more important insights regarding the concept of privacy, I argue that each falls short of providing an adequate account of privacy. I then examine and defend a theory of privacy that incorporates elements of the classic theories into one unified theory: the Restricted Access/Limited Control (RALC) theory of privacy. Using an example involving data-mining technology on the Internet, I show how RALC can help us to frame an online privacy policy that is sufficiently comprehensive in scope to address a wide range of privacy concerns that arise in connection with computers and information technology.

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