"Right of Privacy" - Richard A. Posner

“Right of Privacy,” published by Richard A. Posner in 1978, frames privacy in the context of the economics of sharing or securing personal information. One of the main takeaways from this article was how external forces drive people to keep information private or to make it public. This is an attempt to explain privacy that is more comprehensive than competing, noneconomic, theories of privacy.

What I liked about this argument is the practical angle, where privacy is neither good nor bad, but is more of a currency that one is justified in spending or reserving.

I do wonder if everything in this article holds up 41 years later. Posner wrote, "the costs of defamatory utterances and hence the cost-justified level of expenditures in avoiding defamation are greater the more publicity that is given the utterance. If every conversation were public, the time and other resources devoted to assuring that one’s speech was free from false or unintended slanders would rise.” Presently, social media resembles a conversation that is open and public, and I’m not sure Posner’s statement still fits. It feels like statements on social media is as much false as it is true. Though I suppose they're true to the person sharing them.

Additionally, his conclusion that the trend is moving toward expanding the privacy protections for individuals while contracting those of organizations seems to have swung in the opposite direction in many ways.

But I still think the economic explanation of how privacy works is a solid one.

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