Understanding the Theory of Collective Rights: Redefining the Privacy Paradox

Concept Note

The protection of personal data is understood primarily as a privacy concern. Not only that, it is largely understood as a form of individual right, and an individual challenge. When considering how to protect this privacy in real ways, the first step is to consider the realities of contextually specific privacy challenges. Policy and regulatory solutions must not be constrained by atypical perspectives that exclude African realities in their design. 

Debunking a central privacy trope, the ‘privacy paradox’, by confronting it with the context of public-sector driven identity projects in South Africa helps to uncover interesting nuances to the African data privacy perspective.

The privacy paradox is an important theory to understand in the context of privacy research, because it has dominated discussions on user behaviour in the field (and a strong analysis for solutions should of course root itself in understanding behaviours).

  • Commonly held truths surrounding privacy and data protection may negatively impact the design of effective policy and regulatory solutions.
  • Debunking the privacy paradox in the context of public intersections with data subjects helps to highlight how individualized privacy self-management strategies are problematic as the sole (or chief) model for data protection.
  • Identity projects, given the high level personal identifiable data required, are an important vulnerability context for considering new solutions on collective rights and protections.

Suggested citation

Razzano, G. (2021). Understanding the Theory of Collective Rights: Redefining the Privacy Paradox [Concept Note]. Research ICT Africa. https://researchictafrica.net/publication/concept-note-understanding-the-theory-of-collective-rights-redefining-the-privacy-paradox/