17 June 2014


'Obscurity and Privacy' by Evan Selinger and Woodrow Hartzog in Joseph Pitt and Ashley Shew (eds) Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Technology (Routledge, 2014) comments
‘Obscurity’ is a distinctive concept in the privacy literature that has recently been gaining attention due to increasing frustration with the theoretical and practical limits of traditional privacy theory. 
Obscurity identifies some of the fundamental ways information can be obtained or kept out of reach, correctly interpreted or misunderstood. Appeals to obscurity can generate explanatory power, clarifying how advances in the sciences of data collection and analysis, innovation in domains related to information and communication technology, and changes to social norms can alter the privacy landscape and give rise to three core problems: 1) new breaches of etiquette, 2) new privacy interests, and 3) new privacy harms. 
This entry reviews the concept of obscurity and its theoretical, legal, normative, and technical foundations.