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    Opinion at Forbes: Why A Philosopher Teaches Privacy

    At Forbes, Evan Selinger (an associate professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology) has an opinion column about why privacy is important to philosophy and why he makes it part of his curriculum:

    Not too long ago, a privacy course in the humanities would be of limited interest. Many students were predisposed to believe that privacy issues mostly concerned bad things that happened to indiscreet blabbermouths or anxiety experienced by folks with skeletons in the closet—you know, people with something to hide.

    But since privacy became a headline-grabbing issue, things have changed. Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA activity, fast-moving developments in surveillance and online information and communication technology, potent advances in data storage and analysis, and the emergence of powerful data brokers have all played a part in making privacy a matter of great daily concern for everyone.

    Students are especially interested in what the transition to a big data society riddled with privacy challenges means for them personally, civically, and professionally.

    Philosophy needs to play a leading role in privacy education at because, at its core, privacy is an inherently philosophical issue. […]

    The idea of rights is even trickier. If rights exist, where do they come from, why aren’t they universally championed, and how absolute must they be? Can privacy rights be trumped by other goods society deems important?

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