Concept of privacy dissected at University of Winchester lecture

30 Oct 2017

What is privacy and why can't we agree about how to handle it?

Privacy expert Dr Kieron O'Hara will shed light on the debates around the concept of privacy in a free public lecture organised by the University of Winchester Student Law Society.

As the world embraces digital technologies and big data is increasingly gathered and stored by companies and websites, privacy is a hot topic. Yet, the concept of privacy has divided academics and policymakers for decades - not only in terms of whether it is a good or bad thing - but even what it is. Some believe it is a human right and a pre-requisite for democracy, but some take the view that privacy no longer matters in the era of social media or when balanced against safety or national security.

In this talk, Dr O'Hara reviews how academics in different disciplines, such as law and cybersecurity, are approaching and discussing the concept of privacy. He argues that differing definitions of the term are causing confusion and holding back discussion of the concept, especially as the discussion alters to account for changes in technology and social attitudes. Dr O'Hara sets out seven types of privacy discussion, which provide a way managing future debates around privacy and its value.

Jessica Osmond, University of Winchester student and Chair of the Student Law Society, said, "The Winchester Law Society is delighted to welcome such an esteemed academic. We are excited to hear what he has to say and look forward to picking his brains in the question and answer session."

Kieron O'Hara is an associate professor and principal research fellow in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton and a Visiting Professor at the University of Winchester's Centre for Information Rights, based in the Department of Law. His interests are in the philosophy, sociology and politics of technology, particularly the World Wide Web and the themes of trust, transparency, privacy and the use of technology to support human memory. He has had a central involvement in the development of the discipline of Web Science and he has published a number of books in this area.

In addition to his academic career, he chairs the transparency sector panel for crime and criminal justice for the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office. His report on privacy in the context of the UK government's transparency programme, Transparent Government, Not Transparent Citizens, was published in September 2011.

What is privacy, and why can't we agree about it? takes place on Tuesday 14 November at 6pm at West Downs 2, University of Winchester, West Downs, Romsey Road, Winchester, Hampshire, SO22 5HT. The talk is free and open to members of the public. 

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