Abstract - The Information Society 14(3)

An Ethics For The New Surveillance

Gary T. Marx

The Principles of Fair Information Practice are almost three decades old and need to be broadened to take account of new technologies for collecting personal information such as drug testing, video cameras, electronic location monitoring and the internet. I argue that the ethics of a surveillance activity must be judged according to the means, the context and conditions of data collection and the uses/goals and suggest 29 questions related to this. The more one can answer these questions in a way that affirms the underlying principle (or a condition supportive of it) the more ethical the use of a tactic is likely to be. Four conditions are identified which, when breached, are likely to violate an individual's reasonable expectation of privacy. Respect for the dignity of the person is a central factor and emphasis is put on the avoidance of harm, validity, trust, notice and permission when crossing personal borders.

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