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date: 19 January 2018

Privacy Rights

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. Please check back later for the full article.

Privacy rights are a controversial idea in communication processes that entail varying levels of disclosure of sensitive personal information. What constitutes such personal information and how it should be accessed and used by various actors in a particular communicative exchange tends to be dependent on the situation at hand. And yet, many would argue that a baseline level of privacy should be expected by individuals as part of maintaining human integrity and personal control over information disclosure. Different frameworks exist for thinking about privacy as a right, and these frameworks further suggest different mechanisms for the control of information and the protection of privacy rights in changing communication environments. For example, the main shift in communication processes, from the pre-Internet era to a networked world, has brought with it renewed debates over the regulation of privacy rights. How might privacy rights be evoked in the face of rapidly changing technologies for networked surveillance, biometric identification, and geo-location? And moreover, how might these rights be applied differently to distinct populations based on nationality, race, gender, and age? These questions form the core of what’s at stake in conceptions of privacy rights in contemporary communication.