The Code of Privacy

Privacy and Security

Article Snapshot


Lawrence Lessig


Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 151, No. 3, pg. 283, Sept. 2007


This paper asks how we should protect privacy online.

Policy Relevance

Blocking access to data about people completely could be very harmful, but technology and law can ensure that data is available when it is needed by law enforcement.

Main Points

  • Copyright and privacy are similar: Both involve the desire to restrict the use of certain data. The Internet makes it hard to enforce either.

  • Stopping access to the data completely could be very harmful, especially for law enforcement. But total access to all data can also be harmful.

  • New legal concepts can help ensure that data is available when it is needed, but still protect privacy.

  • In the electronic or online world, people could use “nyms,” a label linked to their real name and traceable by a regulatory process, but different from their real name. Both technology and regulation could ensure that the tracing process is not abused.

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