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Two Concepts of Group Privacy


Loi, Michele; Christen, Markus (2019). Two Concepts of Group Privacy. Philosophy & Technology:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Luciano Floridi was not the first to discuss the idea of group privacy, but he was perhaps the first to discuss it in relation to the insights derived from big data analytics. He has argued that it is important to investigate the possibility that groups have rights to privacy that are not reducible to the privacy of individuals forming such groups. In this paper, we introduce a distinction between two concepts of group privacy. The first, the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” privacy (in the following: WHVSV privacy), deals with confidential information shared with the member of a group and inaccessible to (all or a specific group of) outsiders. The second, to which we shall refer as inferential privacy, deals with the inferences that can be made about a group of people defined by a feature, or combination thereof, shared by all individuals in the group. We show why we unreservedly agree with Floridi that groups can have a form of privacy that amounts to more than the mere fact of being sets of individuals each of whom has individual privacy; moreover, like Floridi, we find it plausible that at least some groups (those satisfying our definition of type-a groups) may have a right to a species of group privacy (that is, WHVSV privacy) as groups (and not just as individuals who belong to those groups). However, by turning our attention to the context of big data analytics, we show that the relevant, new notion of group privacy is one of inferential privacy. We argue that an absolute right (either of individuals or groups) to inferential privacy is implausible. We also show that many groups generated algorithmically (those satisfying our definition of type-b groups) cannot be right holders as groups (unless they become type-a groups).

Abstract

Luciano Floridi was not the first to discuss the idea of group privacy, but he was perhaps the first to discuss it in relation to the insights derived from big data analytics. He has argued that it is important to investigate the possibility that groups have rights to privacy that are not reducible to the privacy of individuals forming such groups. In this paper, we introduce a distinction between two concepts of group privacy. The first, the “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” privacy (in the following: WHVSV privacy), deals with confidential information shared with the member of a group and inaccessible to (all or a specific group of) outsiders. The second, to which we shall refer as inferential privacy, deals with the inferences that can be made about a group of people defined by a feature, or combination thereof, shared by all individuals in the group. We show why we unreservedly agree with Floridi that groups can have a form of privacy that amounts to more than the mere fact of being sets of individuals each of whom has individual privacy; moreover, like Floridi, we find it plausible that at least some groups (those satisfying our definition of type-a groups) may have a right to a species of group privacy (that is, WHVSV privacy) as groups (and not just as individuals who belong to those groups). However, by turning our attention to the context of big data analytics, we show that the relevant, new notion of group privacy is one of inferential privacy. We argue that an absolute right (either of individuals or groups) to inferential privacy is implausible. We also show that many groups generated algorithmically (those satisfying our definition of type-b groups) cannot be right holders as groups (unless they become type-a groups).

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine
08 Research Priority Programs > Digital Society Initiative
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:29 May 2019
Deposited On:15 Jan 2020 11:32
Last Modified:15 Jan 2020 11:47
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:2210-5433
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-019-00351-0
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID407540_167218
  • : Project TitleBetween Solidarity and Personalization - Dealing with Ethical and Legal Big Data Challenges in the Insurance Industry

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