Did the NSA and GCHQ Diminish Our Privacy? What the Control Account Should Say

Moral Philosophy and Politics 7 (1):29-48 (2020)
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A standard account of privacy says that it is essentially a kind of control over personal information. Many privacy scholars have argued against this claim by relying on so-called threatened loss cases. In these cases, personal information about an agent is easily available to another person, but not accessed. Critics contend that control accounts have the implausible implication that the privacy of the relevant agent is diminished in threatened loss cases. Recently, threatened loss cases have become important because Edward Snowden’s revelation of how the NSA and GCHQ collected Internet and mobile phone data presents us with a gigantic, real-life threatened loss case. In this paper, I will defend the control account of privacy against the argument that is based on threatened loss cases. I will do so by developing a new version of the control account that implies that the agents’ privacy is not diminished in threatened loss cases.

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Leonhard Menges
University of Salzburg

Citations of this work

A Defense of Privacy as Control.Leonhard Menges - 2021 - The Journal of Ethics 25 (3):385-402.
Privacy.Judith DeCew - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Government Surveillance, Privacy, and Legitimacy.Peter Königs - 2022 - Philosophy and Technology 35 (1):1-22.

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Responsibility and Control: A Theory of Moral Responsibility.John Martin Fischer & Mark Ravizza - 1998 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mark Ravizza.
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Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829-839.

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