This thesis argues that apparently morally innocuous personal information warrants serious moral consideration. To argue this, I firstly show that much personal information is currently not treated as morally serious. Secondly, I argue that personal information is, in fact, morally serious. Finally, given its moral seriousness, I present a set of principles on how personal information ought to be treated and demonstrate that the moral seriousness of personal information can be captured by reference to identity. This claim has two core premises: firstly, that identity and personal information are related. Secondly, as a result of this relation, certain personal information is morally serious, and ought to be treated as such.The discussion is framed by reference to new and converging technologies that produce personal information which seems morally innocuous. Existing conventions like privacy and ownership are not equipped to give clear and principled ethical justifications as to why we should care about innocuous personal information. Because the common conceptions of privacy are typically viewed in isolation from each other, such approaches are of limited use in dealing with new technologies. Exploring a set of case examples, I give reasons why a non-reductionist account of privacy is better able to respond to innocuous personal information. Similarly, ownership‘s usefulness is constrained when it comes to innocuous personal information. This is because the common moral foundations for ownership claims, instrumental value and intrinsic rights, cannot properly recognise the value of innocuous personal information.To explain why personal information is a morally relevant concern, I develop an account of identity focussing on cognitive processes before presenting a taxonomy of identity types and demonstrating how these identity types ultimately impact on a person‘s self-development and quality of life. Exploring philosophic approaches to information as data that is well ordered, meaningful and judged to be true, I show how existing states of mind effect how a person constructs information. The discussions of identity and information are then brought together. My claim is that identity and information stand in a relation of mutual causation to each other, a relation I call the identity/information dyad. Bringing the discussion back to new technologies, I suggest that the identity/information dyad presents a principled of demonstrating why we should be morally concerned about innocuous personal information. Further, the identity/information dyad offers some advice for how convergent technologies should be designed to reduce the moral problems to which I have drawn attention.
|Qualification||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Award date||31 Dec 2012|
|Place of Publication||Australia|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|