Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Digital Transformations

Research Handbook on Digital Transformations

Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by F. Xavier Olleros and Majlinda Zhegu

The digital transition of our economies is now entering a phase of broad and deep societal impact. While there is one overall transition, there are many different sectoral transformations, from health and legal services to tax reports and taxi rides, as well as a rising number of transversal trends and policy issues, from widespread precarious employment and privacy concerns to market monopoly and cybercrime. They all are fertile ground for researchers, as established laws and regulations, organizational structures, business models, value networks and workflow routines are contested and displaced by newer alternatives. This Research Handbook offers a rich and interdisciplinary synthesis of some of the current thinking on the digital transformations underway.

Chapter 13: Big data and the future for privacy

Neil M. Richards and Jonathan H. King

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, innovation and technology, innovation policy, knowledge management, technology and ict


In our inevitable big data future, critics and sceptics argue that privacy will have no place. We disagree. When properly understood, privacy rules will be an essential and valuable part of our digital future, especially if we wish to retain the human values on which our political, social and economic institutions have been built. In this chapter we make three simple points. First, we need to think differently about ‘privacy’. Privacy is not merely about keeping secrets, but about the rules we use to regulate information, which is and always has been in intermediate states between totally secret and known to all. Privacy rules are information rules, and in an information society, information rules are inevitable. Second, human values rather than privacy for privacy’s sake should animate our information rules. These must include protections for identity, equality, security and trust. Third, we argue that privacy in our big data future can and must be secured in a variety of ways. Formal legal regulation will be necessary, but so too will ‘soft’ regulation by entities like the Federal Trade Commission, and by the development of richer notions of big data ethics.

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