Big Brother is Watching You, Welcome in Walden Two’s Brave New World

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In the vastly changing world of consumer privacy, laws that protect citizens from the data hunger of companies are of the utmost importance. While the GDPR does protect consumer privacy in a certain way, it is based on a very limited conception of privacy. This paper examines the dominant paradigm in privacy law and shows that there are other ways to conceive of privacy. This will be done by looking at three components: (1) what is privacy, (2) what is privacy behaviour, and (3) why is privacy important. I labelled the current paradigm as the liberal conception of privacy. It contends that privacy is having control over information, that privacy behaviour is determined by rational choice and that privacy is important because it is a prerequisite for autonomy. This paper shows that the meaning of privacy could also be the right to be let alone, or more broad conceptions of control over information. Furthermore, privacy behaviour is not as straightforward as the privacy calculus model makes it seem, behavioural economics and social theory provide us with different understandings of privacy behaviour. Finally, when it comes to the value of privacy, republicanism showed the importance for democracy, relationship theory indicated its role in the development of love, friendship and trust, and critical theory explained the power of surveillance and how losing privacy is losing our humanity. This study concludes that the liberal paradigm provides a very limited way of looking at privacy and consequently, current law does not accurately protect consumer privacy.
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