The title says quite a lot about the book: Internet Privacy Rights – Rights to Protect Autonomy. It is an academic book, in the CUP series ‘Cambridge Intellectual Property and Information Law’ (hence the morse code under my name) but I hope that it is accessible to people other than legal or IT academics – to me, the subject needs more exposure and more understanding far beyond the ivory towers of academia.
Not just legal rights…..
What’s more, the ‘rights’ that are the subject of the book are not ‘legal’ rights in a direct sense – though they have a relationship with legal rights. Rather, the book looks at the rights that we, people who use the internet (and that’s most of us), believe we should have, rights that we need to have, rights that businesses and governments need to take into account and respect if they are to have support from us. The law is only a small part of the story – often, as the case studies in the book point out, the laws are often inappropriately written, inconsistent and conflicting, feebly enforced or easily sidestepped. Understanding what people need and what they expect can be more important if businesses are to gain or keep the trust and support of their customers, and if governments are to retain the support of their citizens.
Rights to protect autonomy…
The other key to the ideas in the book is autonomy – and that given the nature of the internet and the ways that we use it, privacy (and privacy rights) is necessary to protect it. Invasions and infringements of privacy, from surveillance and tracking to profiling and misuse of data, can have an impact on far more than our ‘individual’ privacy – they can have an impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives, from ‘traditional’ civil rights such as freedom of speech, association and assembly to practical things like our job prospects, our relationships, our credit ratings and the prices we pay for goods. Our autonomy, our freedom to live as we would like to live, is threatened, not just our privacy – and this is something that still does not seem to be understood by many of those who instigate or support the regular and deepening infringements of our privacy.
The book looks at many of the different ways that our privacy is infringed, from government surveillance to behavioural advertising, from the activities of search engines to the numerous ways that data is vulnerable to hacking, loss and misuse. There are case studies and theoretical analyses – but though the case studies reveal many things that should disturb and concern us, I do not think that it is time for us to give up. Privacy is not dead yet – and I believe that we can find ways to make our future more ‘privacy-friendly’. Indeed, the way that such a future might look is part of the subject of the final chapter of the book.
Buying the book – and a discount available!
The book will be available from online stores (including Amazon) but the best way to get it is directly from CUP, the publishers – and that’s particularly true as they have offered a special discount to people who buy online through their website. Follow the link below, and use the discount code “InternetPrivacyRights2014” for a 20% discount – it is valid until the end of May, but only for purchases through the CUP website here:
There is also an e-book version available here:
and a Kindle Edition of the book, available through the Amazon website:
Anyway, I hope you find it interesting – the main point of the book is really to contribute to the debate over privacy. It is a debate that needs to be had, particularly in the UK where we really don’t seem to discuss the issue enough, as the relatively muted debates over the actions of GCHQ and the NSA have shown. We need to talk about it much more.