The Limitations of “Information Privacy” in the Network Environment

Jisuk Woo, Jae-Hyup Lee


The modern concept of privacy as a right to be let alone was developed in the context of print media. With the advent of digital technology, the focus of the privacy concept has changed to individuals’ right to control their information. In this essay, we explore why the individual right to control personal information is not enough to protect privacy in a meaningful way in a networked environment, given the interactive nature of the Internet and the voluntary nature of information activities of individual users. The greatest difficulty for individuals who become the object of surveillance in the current technological environment lies in the fact that as individual users' identities become more and more exposed, subjects of surveillance and their activities become less and less identifiable. Given the power disparity regarding identifiability that always has existed between individuals and institutions and among different individuals, we argue that privacy should not only be an individual's right but also a social good with concerns for the public interest.

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