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Neil M. Richards and Jonathan H. King

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.