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Engaging Privacy and Information Technology in a Digital Age
up the congeries of fears raised by the (mis)use of computers.3 However, privacy has not been the only term invoked in this context. A variety of other, partly overlapping concepts have also been invoked—particularly those of “freedom,” “liberty,” and “autonomy.”4
The U.S. debate, particularly in the 1960s and early 1970s, about the privacy-related threats posed by computers exercised considerable influence on debates in other countries. As Hondius writes, “[a]lmost every issue that arose in Europe was also an issue in the United States, but at an earlier time and on a more dramatic scale.”5 Naturally, the salience of the privacy concept in U.S. discourse helped to ensure its prominence in the debate elsewhere. This is most evident in discourse in other English-speaking countries6 and in international forums where English is a working language.7 Yet also in countries in which English is
See, for example, Alan F. Westin, Privacy and Freedom, Atheneum, New York, 1967. In this pioneering work that prompted global privacy movements in many democratic nations in the 1970s, Dr. Alan Westin, Professor of Public Law at Columbia University, defined privacy as the claim of individuals, groups, and institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others. See also Arthur R. Miller, The Assault on Privacy: Computers, Data Banks, and Dossiers, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1971 (hereinafter cited as Miller, The Assault on Privacy, 1971).
The title of Westin’s seminal work Privacy and Freedom (1967) is a case in point. Indeed, as pointed out further below, “privacy” in this context has tended to be conceived essentially as a form of autonomy—that is, as one’s ability to control the flow of information about oneself.
Frits W. Hondius, Emerging Data Protection in Europe, North Holland Publishing, Amsterdam, 1975, p. 6 (hereinafter cited as Hondius, Emerging Data Protection in Europe, 1975). Even in more recent times, discourse in the United States often takes up such issues before they are discussed elsewhere. For example, systematic discussion about the impact of digital rights management systems (earlier termed “electronic copyright management systems”) on privacy interests occurred first in the United States: see particularly, Julie Cohen, “A Right to Read Anonymously: A Closer Look at ‘Copyright Management’ in Cyberspace,” Conn. L. Rev. 28:981, 1996, available at http://www.law.georgetown.edu/faculty/jec/read_anonymously.pdf. Similar discussion did not occur in Europe until a couple of years later—the first instance being L.A. Bygrave and K.J. Koelman, “Privacy, Data Protection and Copyright: Their Interaction in the Context of Electronic Copyright Management Systems,” Institute for Information Law, Amsterdam, 1998; later published in P.B. Hugenholtz, ed., Copyright and Electronic Commerce, Kluwer Law International, The Hague/London/Boston, 2000, pp. 59-124.
See, for example, United Kingdom, Committee on Privacy (Younger Committee), Report ofthe Committee on Privacy, Cm. 5012, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1972; Canada, Department of Communications and Department of Justice, Privacy and Computers: A Reportof a Task Force, Information Canada, Ottawa, 1972; Australian Law Reform Commission, Privacy, Report No. 22, Australian Government Publishing Service (AGPS), Canberra, 1983; and W.L. Morison, Report on the Law of Privacy to the Standing Committee of Commonwealth andState Attorneys-General, Report No. 170/1973, AGPS, Canberra, 1973.
As is evident, for example, in the titles of the early Council of Europe resolutions dealing with information technology threats. See Council of Europe Resolution (73)22 on the