Location Data, Purpose Binding and Contextual Integrity: What's the Message? [chapter]

Mireille Hildebrandt
2014 Protection of Information and the Right to Privacy - A New Equilibrium?  
This chapter investigates the issue of the proliferation of location data in the light of the ethical concept of contextual integrity and the legal concept of purpose binding. This involves an investigation of both concepts as side constraints on the free flow of information, entailing a balancing act between the civil liberties of individual citizens and the free flow of information. To tackle the issue the chapter starts from Floridi's proposition that 'communication means exchanging
more » ... So even the most elementary act of communication involves four elements: a sender, a receiver, a message, and a referent of the message' and his subsequent proposal that informational privacy can be described as 'the freedom from being the referent of a message'. After discussing the current environment of messaging in terms of Big Data Space and the Onlife World, the chapter develops a more detailed definition for the right to informational location privacy. The road to this more detailed definition allows to highlight the balancing act inherent in both contextual integrity and purpose binding, and shows that the most salient challenge for such balancing acts is not -only -that Big Data Space and the Onlife World turn contexts into moving targets. More importantly, the context of economic markets tends to colonize the framing of other contexts, thus also disrupting the protection offered by purpose binding. To safeguard informational privacy we need to engage in new types of boundary work between the contexts of e.g. health, politics, religion, work on the one hand, and the context of economic markets on the other. This ardent task should enable us to sustain legitimate expectations of what location messages are appropriate as well as lawful in a particular context. * The research for this chapter was done in the context of the interdisciplinary research project on 'Contextual privacy and the proliferation of location data', funded by the Flemish Science Policy Agency (FWO), which entails a collaboration between computer engineers and lawyers from Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. I want to thank my co-researchers on the project for their many insights: Claudia Diaz, Laura Tielemans and Michael Herrmann. I also want to thank Helen Nissenbaum and Tal Zarsky for their comments on an earlier version of the paper and all participants to the 'Privacy Workshop: From Theory to Practice' at Haifa University in December 2013. 4 A cybernetic starting point: Location data in Big Data Space The idea that an act of communication can be defined as the exchange of messages takes its clue from Wiener's theory of cybernetics. Wiener connected the notion of communication with that of control, claiming that the exchange of messages is meant to give agents a certain measure of control over their environment. He formulated his theory to explain communication between machines, explicitly defining human persons as machines. In doing so, he hoped to enhance scientific understanding of human-to-human, human-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication. Though we need not agree that human persons are machines, it makes sense to follow up on Wiener's semantics for the simple reason that our online and offline environments are increasingly constructed and 'animated' by interactive computing networks, built on the semantic assumptions of cybernetics. 8 By adopting the idea
doi:10.1007/978-3-319-05720-0_3 fatcat:4vb4easb7zdq3fadsdsovihsba