The Fight for Privacy: Protecting Dignity, Identity, and Love in the Digital Age

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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.

Editorial Reviews:

“Timely and compelling…[The Fight for Privacy] is an informed, bracing call to action in defense of our private selves.”
― Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“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. Lawmakers and citizens alike, this book is for you.”
― Shoshana Zuboff, author, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism and Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School

“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

“A tour de force. Citron offers trenchant clarity and lucid hope for achieving justice in our digital future.”
― 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

“A terrific, though terrifying, exposé. 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

About the Author:

Danielle Keats Citron the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Schenck Distinguished Professor in Law at the University of Virginia. A 2019 MacArthur Fellow, she serves as the vice president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.