Interests & Focus

Since privacy is such a large field, it is too large to take in at once. To make any kind of progress in studying it, it’s necessary to narrow ones interests.

One theme that seems interesting are the legal aspects of privacy. How do you apply current laws and court decisions to privacy conflicts? What formal policies would be most effective to meet the needs of society? This could also intersect determining how to apply constitutional law to situations with non-governmental agencies.

Another related avenue to pursue is study the history of privacy and the different ways that issues have been addressed. With a historical analysis, one might be able to get prospective insights into developing situations.

A third line of investigation it to study the psychological, sociological and ethnographic aspects of privacy behaviors and attitudes. Philosophical and ethical analysis can apply with the design and interpretation of those studies.

Solove talks about a balancing process that may lead different answers in different social and historical situations. A deep analysis of the costs and benefits of privacy policies can guide the policies mentioned above. This line of study could also include a power analysis about the power relationships between actors and their decisions. This line of investigation would also be able to study the needs, requirements and desires of them.

Another group of topics analyzes empirical application of privacy guidelines such as Fair Information Practices, the EU Data Protection Directive and similar frameworks. These guidelines could develop into professional standards for technologists as well for the designers and planners of systems. In this line of study, one could analyze existing technology to see how they affect privacy interests as well as develop principles to apply to new systems.

An additional aspect of this last factor of topics would be education and a development of understanding of privacy, its benefits and trade-offs.

This last group interacts with many of the others. Privacy guidelines can guide legislative procedures. The empirical understanding of individual and ethical analyses would provide questions or frameworks for designing standards. An understanding of the balancing involved would be part of an educational program.

This last group of topics is where I would like to focus my investigations. I would like to apply an understanding of the theoretical organization of concepts to technological issues. As they apply to libraries and e-commerce are more particular functional areas to examine.