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The Digital Individual and the Private Realm

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Geographic information systems and the technological family associated with them—global positioning systems, geodemographics, and remote surveillance systems—raise important questions with respect to the issue of privacy. Of most immediate import, the systems store and represent data in ways that render ineffective the most popular safeguards against privacy abuse. But the systems are associated with more fundamental changes in the right to privacy and even, some would say, with challenges to the possibility of privacy itself. They make reasonable and acceptable the view that technological change is inevitable and autonomous, and therefore, too, are the development of increasingly comprehensive dossiers on individuals and households and the use of increasingly powerful means for the technological enhancements of vision. And their use in the creation of data profiles supports a wide-ranging reconceptualization of community, place, and individual. Nonetheless, in the ways they create and use digital profiles, the systems do offer suggestions for a partial remedy to the problems that they have created.
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Keywords: Geographic information systems; geodemographics; law; privacy; surveillance; technological change

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of California, Los Angeles

Publication date: 1997-12-01

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