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 9: Privacy in public spaces: the problem of out-of-body DNA

Albert E. Scherr


Any conception of privacy in public spaces must account for the practice of surreptitious DNA harvesting. Surreptitious DNA harvesting presents a set of privacy problems different than other privacy-intrusion practices. Shed DNA is out-of-body DNA containing a kaleidoscope of intimate, personal, and powerful information. Viewed through DNA’s connection to the body, out-of-body DNA begs for protection, even when left in a public space. Viewed as merely an abandoned body trace, shed DNA too often provokes a physically-bounded conception of privacy that dissolves any instinct for protection because the DNA is no longer part of the physical self or the physical identity. This chapter proposes a re-conception of bodily privacy in a public space that calls for privacy protection for the genetic self (the genetic identity), irrespective of its physical location.

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