The Social Contract Core

The information age has brought with it the promise of unprecedented economic growth based on the efficiencies made possible by new technology. This same greater efficiency has left society with less and less time to adapt to technological progress. Perhaps the greatest cost of this progress is the threat to privacy we all face from unconstrained exchange of our personal information. In response to this threat, the World Wide Web Consortium has introduced the "Platform for Privacy Preferences" (P3P) to allow sites to express policies in machine-readable form and to expose these policies to site visitors [1]. However, today P3P does not protect the privacy of individuals, nor does its implementation empower communities or groups to negotiate and establish standards of behavior. It is only through such negotiation or feedback that new social contracts can evolve. We propose a privacy architecture, the Social Contract Core (SCC), designed to use technology to facilitate this feedback and so speed the establishment of new "Social Contracts" needed to protect private data. The goal of SCC is to empower communities, speed the "socialization" of new technology, and encourage the rapid access to, and exchange of, information. Addressing these issues is essential, we feel, to both liberty and economic prosperity in the information age[2].

By: James H. Kaufman, Stefan Edlund, Daniel A. Ford, Calvin Powers

Published in: Electronic Commerce Research, volume 5, (no 1), pages 141-65 in 2005

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