The Fight for Privacy: Protecting Dignity, Identity, and Love in the Digital Age
"A crucial book." —Safiya Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression
The essential road map for understanding—and defending—your right to privacy in the twenty-first century.
Privacy is disappearing. From our sex lives to our workout routines, the details of our lives once relegated to pen and paper have joined the slipstream of new technology. As a MacArthur fellow and distinguished professor of law at the University of Virginia, acclaimed civil rights advocate Danielle Citron has spent decades working with lawmakers and stakeholders across the globe to protect what she calls intimate privacy—encompassing our bodies, health, gender, and relationships. When intimate privacy becomes data, corporations know exactly when to flash that ad for a new drug or pregnancy test. Social and political forces know how to manipulate what you think and who you trust, leveraging sensitive secrets and deepfake videos to ruin or silence opponents. And as new technologies invite new violations, people have power over one another like never before, from revenge porn to blackmail, attaching life-altering risks to growing up, dating online, or falling in love.
A masterful new look at privacy in the twenty-first century, The Fight for Privacy takes the focus off Silicon Valley moguls to investigate the price we pay as technology migrates deeper into every aspect of our lives: entering our bedrooms and our bathrooms and our midnight texts; our relationships with friends, family, lovers, and kids; and even our relationship with ourselves.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with victims, activists, and advocates, Citron brings this headline issue home for readers by weaving together visceral stories about the countless ways that corporate and individual violators exploit privacy loopholes. Exploring why the law has struggled to keep up, she reveals how our current system leaves victims—particularly women, LGBTQ+ people, and marginalized groups—shamed and powerless while perpetrators profit, warping cultural norms around the world.
Yet there is a solution to our toxic relationship with technology and privacy: fighting for intimate privacy as a civil right. Collectively, Citron argues, citizens, lawmakers, and corporations have the power to create a new reality where privacy is valued and people are protected as they embrace what technology offers. Introducing readers to the trailblazing work of advocates today, Citron urges readers to join the fight. Your intimate life shouldn’t be traded for profit or wielded against you for power: it belongs to you. With Citron as our guide, we can take back control of our data and build a better future for the next, ever more digital, generation.
Praise for The Fight for Privacy: Protecting Dignity, Identity, and Love in the Digital Age
Danielle Citron is everyone’s teacher when it comes to digital privacy.
— Sue Halpern
Privacy is politics, and if we want it back we must fight for it. In this open-hearted and down-to-earth book Danielle Keats Citron offers reasons for optimism among the ruins of our once-cherished privacy. She details the devasting effects of the loss of ‘intimate privacy’ and argues that new rights and laws for the digital age are both long overdue and within our grasp. Lawmakers and citizens alike, this book is for you.
— Shoshana Zuboff, author, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism and professor emeritus, Harvard Business School
An important intervention in the larger conversation about digital privacy and harassment.
— Rhoda Feng - Washington Monthly
It’s so refreshing to read an argument for privacy that centers women. Devastating and urgent, this book could not be more timely.
— Caroline Criado Perez, author of Invisible Women
From how social networks sell our data to retailers (and worse) to the concern around period-tracking apps being used against pregnant people, the fight for privacy has never been more fierce.…Drawing from interviews with victims, activists, and lawmakers, Citron calls for a reassessment of privacy as a human right and how we can better protect our future privacy.
— Rachel King - Fortune
What gives [Citron] the edge is a real-world understanding of privacy’s relationship to diverse permutations of power and her ambition to address the disproportionate impact of violations on women and minorities.
— Jessica Lake - Australian Book Review
A powerful and urgent manifesto for the protection of ‘intimate privacy’ in the United States and beyond.
— Susie Alegre, international human rights lawyer and author of Freedom to Think
The Fight for Privacy is nothing less than the battle to keep our intimate, private selves free from exploitation. A vitally important book.
— Cordelia Fine, author of Delusions of Gender and Testosterone Rex
A tour de force. Arguing convincingly that our intimate privacy is a moral necessity being eroded in frightening and accelerating ways, Danielle Keats Citron offers trenchant clarity and lucid hope for achieving justice in our digital future. A must-read.
— Kate Manne, author of Entitled: How Male Privilege Hurts Women
A crucial book for understanding the crisis of privacy invasion, and the unrelenting damage that comes from intimate, nonconsensual surveillance. If you care about anyone, anywhere, you should read this book.
— Safiya Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression
This beautifully written book deserves a wide audience and hopefully will inspire needed meaningful change in the law.
— Erwin Chemerinsky, dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
Danielle Keats Citron’s expert and engaging treatment of ‘technology-enabled privacy violations’ shows why victims, digital platforms, and legislators alike turn to her for advice and for fights to reclaim privacy morally, legally, and practically.
— Martha Minow, former dean, Harvard Law School
An informed, bracing call to action in defense of our private selves.
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Accessible legal reasoning and galling case studies make this a cogent argument for reform.
— Publishers Weekly