The essential road map for understanding—and defending—your right to privacy in the twenty-first century.
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.
“Danielle Keats Citron—the brilliant, ground-breaking law professor and civil rights advocate—continues her important and impactful work in helping governments, society, and the titans of the technology sector to understand that our collective failure to protect our intimate privacy amounts to a massive failing to protect our basic civil rights. Through heartbreaking accounts from victims, a careful and detailed exposition of how a range of technologies are being weaponized against us, and a detailed review of the ethical and legal landscape governing these issues, The Fight for Privacy is a must read by anyone who cares about civil rights.”
– Hany Farid, University of California, Berkeley
“This is a terrific, though terrifying, exposé about how often our intimate activities and intimate information end up on social media. Professor Danielle Keats Citron makes a compelling case for a ‘right to intimate privacy’ under the law. 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
“When your wristwatch monitors your location and your health status and your window-shopping and purchases generate information sold and combined with other information about you, the accumulation of ‘little assents’ produces constant surveillance, risks of manipulation, and the elimination of privacy. 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
“Danielle Keats Citron has given us a crucial book for understanding the crisis of privacy invasion, and the unrelenting damage that comes from intimate, nonconsensual surveillance. This book should be required reading for every policy maker, parent, or person who wants to reimagine privacy protections. If you care about anyone, anywhere, you should read this book.”
– Safiya Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression
“From how social networks sell our data to retailers (and worse) to the concern around period-tracking apps being used against pregnant people, the fight for privacy has never been more fierce. Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at the University of Virginia and vice president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, suggests that privacy as we knew it is already gone, that doesn’t mean we should give up. Drawing from interviews with victims, activists, and lawmakers, Citron calls for a reassessment of privacy as a human right and how we can better protect our future privacy.”
– Rachel King, editor at Fortune
[…] Anyone who is deeply involved with using the internet in any form should pick up this book. It is important for everyone to understand how intimate privacy violations affect its victims and why the fight to make a change needs to happen as people continue to live their lives online.
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– Leah Fitzgerald, The Library Journal
“UVA law professor Citron (Hate Crimes in Cyberspace) warns in this persuasive and impassioned call for substantive legal protections for private data that “memories of our intimate lives are being created against our will by perpetrators who intrude on the seclusion that we expect, want and deserve.”[…](Read full review)
– Publishers Weekly
“Citron’s book provides a legal pathway for securing our right to intimate privacy in the digital era and for recognizing that it is as crucial as our other civil liberties—no more, no less. With Roe v. Wade overturned and the potential for women’s intimate data to be used to investigate or prosecute potential abortion cases, such legal clarity is more urgent than ever.”[…](Read full review)
– Rhoda Feng, Washington Monthly
“Warren and Brandeis 1890 article, ‘A Right to Privacy’ is often described as the most influential law review article ever written. With her intellectual erudition and commitment to privacy as a force for good, Citron is the Warren and Brandeis of her generation. What gives her the edge is a real-world understanding of privacy’s relationship to diverse permutations of power and her ambition to address the disproportionate impact of violations on women and minorities.”[…](Read full review)
– Jessica Lake, Australian Book Review