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Thinking about the right to privacy through the lens of individual and collective rights


Université Laval



Project leader(s)

Jocelyn Maclure and Sylvain Auclair


Given the challenges posed by the predictive analysis of massive data, many experts argue that privacy protection should focus more on regulating the uses of inferred information and how they impact individuals. On this issue, Helen Nissenbaum’s theory of contextual integrity is advanced as a promising tool to identify uses of inferred information that would not be ethically acceptable.

In their report, the researchers examine this theory and explain that it is useful for thinking about privacy beyond a strictly individual perspective as well as for recognizing the social dimension of this protection. They point out that the critical metrics proposed with this theoretical framework are relevant to measuring people’s perceptions as to the acceptability of new information-flow technologies. However, the researchers explain that the evaluative aspect of this theory has flaws. Notably, it does not allow for a distinction between harms that are specifically privacy-related and those that do not fall under the umbrella of “privacy” but for which privacy protection functions as an anticipatory protection.

The analysis provided an opportunity for the authors to elaborate on the relationship between the right to privacy and fundamental rights and on the collective nature of the right to privacy.

Project deliverables are available in the following language(s)


OPC-funded project

This project received funding support through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada’s Contributions Program. The opinions expressed in the summary and report(s) are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. Summaries have been provided by the project authors. Please note that the projects appear in their language of origin.

Contact information

Jocelyn Maclure
Associate Professor at Université Laval’s Faculty of Philosophy and Professor at McGill University’s Department of Philosophy
Email: Jocelyn Maclure

Sylvain Auclair
Philosophy teacher at Cégep de Sainte-Foy and doctoral student at Université Laval’s Faculty of Philosophy
Email: Sylvain Auclair

Université Laval
Pavillon Félix-Antoine-Savard, Room 532
2325 Des Bibliothèques St.
Québec City, QC G1V 0A6

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