Privacy is essential to human flourishing, to democratic citizenship and to equality. If you don’t have the ability to set boundaries around those aspects of intimate privacy, it’s hard to develop who you are. I can’t say it better than Charles Fried, professor of law at Harvard Law School, who said that privacy is the oxygen for love. We fall in love by becoming reciprocally vulnerable, and reciprocally sharing information, including the things that we wouldn’t share with anybody else. The argument of the book is that without intimate privacy, we’re shells of ourselves. We can’t participate in citizenship.
Internet companies and data brokers contravene this kind of privacy every day, but your book also speaks about more targeted attacks, such as revenge porn, where people share the intimate photos or videos of others online. It highlights how Section 230, a piece of US legislation that has been at the heart of debate about social media content moderation in recent years, protects this kind of content.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act makes it impossible to bring a lawsuit against the party that is in the best position to minimise the harm of sharing intimate information without a person’s consent: the content platforms. You can’t demand that a site take down your nude photos posted without your permission. The site is making money off your photo, they’re making money off the data of everybody subscribing or visiting, but they get to say: “Sorry, too bad.”