Privacy in Public Space
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Privacy in Public Space

Conceptual and Regulatory Challenges

Edited by Tjerk Timan, Bryce C. Newell and Bert-Jaap Koops

This book examines privacy in public space from both legal and regulatory perspectives. With on-going technological innovations such as mobile cameras, WiFi tracking, drones and augmented reality, aspects of citizens’ lives are increasingly vulnerable to intrusion. The contributions describe contemporary challenges to achieving privacy and anonymity in physical public space, at a time when legal protection remains limited compared to ‘private’ space. To address this problem, the book clearly shows why privacy in public space needs defending. Different ways of conceptualizing and shaping such protection are explored, for example through ‘privacy bubbles’, obfuscation and surveillance transparency, as well as revising the assumptions underlying current privacy laws.
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Chapter 6: Exposure and concealment in digitalized public spaces

Stephen B. Zhao


The Dutch CBP recently decided that monitoring people in and around commercial shops by tracking their mobile phone WiFi-signal without notice for analysis is against Dutch law. The ECJ judged in František Ryneš that monitoring the footpath in public space with a surveillance camera is in general a violation of EU law. Both authorities rejected collecting and processing personal data in ‘public space’ without consent or notification, as digitalization of public space has become a global trend nowadays, resulting in escalating privacy threat of multiple forms. Based on case analysis and conceptual construction, this chapter seeks to address the scope of reasonable ‘expectation of privacy’ in digitalized public spaces. It elaborates: (a) the genera of public spaces, including commercial venues, governmental utilities, even private properties, etc., and their related characteristics; (b) the functionalities of concealment and exposure of personal information in multiple public spaces, for instance, to achieve safety, identity establishment, autonomy, dignity, mutual trust, public participation, cooperation and economic efficiency; (c) the substantial impacts brought about by the increasing digitalization of public spaces, especially regarding the functionalities of personal information concealment; and therefore (d) the justified, reasonable ‘privacy expectation’ in public spaces, and feasible thresholds for safeguard.

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