A Justice-Centered Approach to Privacy

Paper Proposal for the
Western Political Science Association
Annual Meeting

Contemporary approaches to privacy vary considerably in their basic principles, but all have as their effective practice the restriction of information flows among actors. This paper instead explores a justice-centric approach to privacy. It argues that information is best understood as a practice governed by relational approaches to justice such as that offered by Iris Marion Young. One can see both by studying open data movements and by comparing distribution and non-distribution cases that the distribution of data is insufficient to determine whether a particular information practice is just. This is in large part due to the fact that data embodies the set of social relations that underlie the translation regime through which data is created. As a result, the data that privacy seeks to control is already socially structured, and privacy problems emerge through the mere existence of data as much as its flow among actors. This problem is resolved mot by redistributing information but by information practices that minimize the potential for information dominance and information oppression.