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Dimensions of Privacy

Dimensions of Privacy


Prof. B. Roessler


Current members of the research group

Prof. B. Roessler, Dr. D. Mokrosinska, Prof. Ruud Janssens, Dr. Giliam de Valk (Ad de Jong Centrum) ; close cooperation with the ca. 30 members of the Amsterdam Platform for Privacy Research (APPR), especially Prof. Nico van Eijk (rechten); PhD student mr. Bart van der Sloot

Description of the research programme

Mostly, privacy is considered to be a thoroughly individualist notion. The value of privacy is understood in terms of individual freedom and individual well-being. The protection and maintenance of privacy is conceived in terms of control and discretion exercised by the individual. Although this is certainly not wrong, it might have two undesirable consequences: Firstly, restricting the value of privacy to individual freedom and well-being seems to encumber finding satisfactory solutions in cases of conflicts between privacy, on the one hand, and collective values, such as security, on the other. Secondly, the interpretation of privacy protection and maintenance in terms of an individual’s control over access to their personal information seems to run into difficulties in the face of current and near future technological developments that have an inherent tendency to conceal data that is gathered, stored, and processed about the individual. Since social norms of informational privacy govern all relationsships in our society, part of the research project will be concerned with the changing norms of relationships (on SNS, for instance) under the influence of new technologies.

Envisaged results

Organization of lectures and workshops, in close cooperation with the APPR
Articels in Journals
Volume on Social Dimensions of Privacy: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Cambridge University Press (under contract; forthcoming 2014), ed. by Roessler & Mokrosinska
Authors’ conference for the envisaged volume, January 2014

Workplan and time schedule

At the moment, the project is still financed by the NWO but the research will be continued after the end of the project; we are working on a new proposal.

Societal relevance

The research in this programme aims to deepen the understanding of the moral and legal dilemmas in which privacy is involved and to adapt and enrich the protection and maintenance of privacy in the context of quickly developing new technologies. This way, it helps policy makers to get a deeper insight into the ethical issues surrounding individual and social aspects of privacy, for instance in debates on the balancing of individual rights (privacy) and social utility (security).