Monday, November 15, 2010

privacy and justice

I found Bowers article interesting. I think a lot of library users do not think about the privacy of libraries records and probably assume library records are private just like other forms of records, like medical, financial, etc; at least when I talk to people outside the library community, they have no idea that there are no national laws protecting the privacy of their library records. As for the constitutional protection of privacy, I was not surprised that the constitution does not explicitly protect privacy. When I took constitutional law, I learned there are a lot of things I thought were/should be in the constitution but were actually just judicial interpretations of the constitution. As I thought about it, it sort of makes sense that privacy was not explicitly addressed. Today, everything we do creates records and technology allows vast quantities of records to be stored and shared; however, at the time the constitution was written, people were not creating the same record trails: no records of credit card purchases, medical records were probably less extensive, and there were few records of what people were reading. I wonder what others in the class think about whether privacy should be explicitly protected in the constitution, i.e. should a constitutional amendment be added to protect privacy? That is of course ignoring the reality of how difficult it is to actually amend the constitution.

The Britz article made me think about the inequalities of information throughout the world. I didn't necessarily agree with everything she said, but I do agree that there are problems, for example illiteracy, censorship, threat to privacy, unfair IP laws, etc. On pg. 1174, Britz states that ideally the principles of justice will be "embedded and expressed in a constitution, laws, rules, and a social structure that recognizes shared moral values and norms." When I read that statement, I was reminded of a discussion in my international law class a few years: can there be binding international law. In her statement, Britz seems to be assuming that if there were rules, laws, etc codifying the principles of justice, the rules, laws, etc would be binding; however, I wonder who she thinks has the authority to create, enforce, and interpret those rules and laws. She seems to emphasize that all stakeholders should be involved and everyone should have a voice, so I wonder how her ideas would work in a practical situation.


  1. Interesting point, Joanna, about privacy being a constitutional right. I think it would be great if it were. You are right that there is this huge paper trail for all of us now and it's very unsettling. There was something in the news the last few days about how the new screening procedures at the airports are so revealing (and probably humiliating).

  2. Joanna, you make a good point about the Britz article, as it regards international law. While I agree with the general premise, that the principle of justice should be a central consideration as we construct legislation and policy that will shape our emerging information society. However, I too found the article to be a little long in the philosophy department and short on specifics as to how that philosophy may lead to workable policy, especially on an international level.