Distinguished Lecture

Privacy in Context

Wednesday, April 2, 2008
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Helen Nissenbaum

Contemporary practices of gathering, analyzing, and disseminating personal information have placed impossible demands on the concept of privacy. The weight of these demands, in turn, is reflected in norms, laws, policies, and technical requirements that frequently seem to miss the mark, failing to negotiate a reasonable course between unbridled opportunism, on the one hand, and suspicious intransigence, on the other. This talk will present key elements in the theory of contextual integrity, which builds upon structural aspects of social life to enrich our understanding of privacy and its importance as a moral and political value. Allowing context-relative social norms and context-based social values into the scope of analysis enables nuance and subtle discrimination, often missing in other dominant approaches, in modeling and theorizing privacy as well as adjudicating and justifying particular privacy claims.

Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, where she is also a Faculty Fellow of the Information Law Institute. Grants from the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have supported her research on privacy, trust online, security, intellectual property, and several projects investigating moral and political values embodied in computer and information systems, notably, search engines, video games, and facial recognition systems. She has produced three books, Emotion and Focus, Computers, Ethics and Social Values (co-edited with D.J. Johnson), and Academy and the Internet (co-edited with Monroe Prince), and co-founded the journal Ethics and Information Technology. Before joining the faculty at NYU, Nissenbaum served as Associate Director of Princeton University’s Center for Human Values and has held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton and the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University. She earned a B.A. (Honors) from the University of Witwatersand, Johannesburg, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford.

Last updated:

August 23, 2016