3 December 2019

Lizzie O’Shea draws on Frantz Fanon’s work on race and identity to reconceptualise digital privacy as a form of self-determination: “A key part of the problem is that privacy as a right has been defined too narrowly, framed as the right to be left alone and little more. Part of our job, then, is to open up the more radical possibilities of this concept, to show that privacy is about the capacity to explore our personal faculties without judgment, to experiment in community-building on our own terms. The right to privacy is the right to exist in a world in which data generated about you cannot be used as an indelible record of your identity. Privacy is not just a technical approach to information management delegated to individual responsibility. … A more expansive way to think about privacy, then, is to see it as a right to digital self-determination. It is about self-governance, the right to determine our own destiny and be free to write a history of our own sense of self. Self-determination has a long history in legal and philosophical thinking, but it gained new meaning in the latter half of the twentieth century during the explosion of postcolonial struggles, including in the struggle for Algerian independence that Fanon was involved in. There are good reasons to see the struggle for digital self-determination as a successor of these movements.”