Ryan Calo writes, "I argue in a new paper that economists and privacy advocates don't need to hate one another... Here's the abstract:"
Law and economics tends to be skeptical of privacy, finding privacy overrated, inefficient, and perhaps even immoral. Law should not protect privacy because privacy inhibits the market by allowing people to hide useful information.
Privacy law scholars tend to be skeptical of markets. Markets 'unravel' privacy by penalizing consumers who prefer it, degrade privacy by treating it as just another commodity to be traded, and otherwise interfere with the values or processes that privacy exists to preserve.
This mutual and longstanding hostility obscures the significant degree to which privacy and markets assume and reply upon one another in order to achieve their respective ends.
For example, in a world without privacy, traditional market criteria such as price and quality can be overwhelmed by salient but extraneous information such as personal belief. Meanwhile, imagine how much a government must know about its citizens to reject markets and distribute resources according to the maxim 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.'
Conceiving of privacy and markets as sympathetic helps justify or explain certain legal puzzles, such as why the Federal Trade Commission -- an agency devoted to free and open markets and replete with economists -- has emerged as the de facto privacy authority in the United States. The account also helps build a normative case for political and other laws that enforce a separation between market and other information.
Privacy and Markets: A Love Story
Facebook was caught offering advertisers a direct line to psychologically vulnerable teens. Nitasha Tiku writes that this exposes the deeper danger of its insight into our lives: it’s not the data that’s the problem, it’s how it could be “weaponized in ways those users cannot see, and would never knowingly allow.” The company had offered […]
Thunderbird is one of the last robust email clients, a must-have for people who don’t want to use webmail or leave their mail on a server, waiting to be hacked and dumped — but for years, it has been on deathwatch, as the Mozilla Foundation looked for another organization to take it over.
Comparitech commissioned a survey of 2,000 people in the US and UK to ask whether they thought “it is legal to install a program on a partner’s phone to snoop on their activity?” and whether they would “ever consider adding a program to your child’s phone that allows you to listen to their conversations and […]
If you are camping during rainy season, or just want a TSA-approved lighter, these plasma torches make perfect travel companions. These gas-free lighters create a small plasma beam that’s safer than butane to use and more environmentally friendly. It creates a super-hot, splashproof flame so you can get a campfire going, or have a smoke […]
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While some people still maintain that everything in Apple’s walled garden “just works” and is immune to the rampant malware of the Windows world, the reality is different. The Mac’s growing market share has made it a much more viable target for malicious actors, and its built-in tools aren’t always enough to fix things. Drive […]