Location Data, Purpose Binding and Contextual Integrity: What's the Message?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter investigates the issue of the proliferation of location data in the light of the ethical concept of contextual integrity and the legal concept of purpose binding. This involves an investigation of both concepts as side constraints on the free flow of information, entailing a balancing act between the civil liberties of individual citizens and the free flow of information. To tackle the issue the chapter starts from Floridi's proposition that 'communication means exchanging messages. So even the most elementary act of communication involves four elements: a sender, a receiver, a message, and a referent of the message' and his subsequent proposal that informational privacy can be described as 'the freedom from being the referent of a message'. After discussing the current environment of messaging in terms of Big Data Space and the Onlife World, the chapter develops a more detailed definition for the right to informational location privacy. The road to this more detailed definition allows to highlight the balancing act inherent in both contextual integrity and purpose binding, and shows that the most salient challenge for such balancing acts is not - only - that Big Data Space and the Onlife World turn contexts into moving targets. More importantly, the context of economic markets tends to colonize the framing of other contexts, thus also disrupting the protection offered by purpose binding. To safeguard informational privacy we need to engage in new types of boundary work between the contexts of e.g. health, politics, religion, work on the one hand, and the context of economic markets on the other. This ardent task should enable us to sustain legitimate expectations of what location messages are appropriate as well as lawful in a particular context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProtection of Information and the Right to Privacy - A New Equilibrium?
EditorsLuciano Floridi
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-05720-0
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-05719-4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameLaw, Governance and Technology Series
ISSN (Print)2352-1902

Bibliographical note

Floridi, Luciano


  • Cybernetics
  • Messages
  • Contextual integrity
  • Purpose binding
  • ethics
  • Rule of Law
  • Inferences
  • volunteered data
  • behavioural data


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