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ObfuscationA User's Guide for Privacy and Protest$
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Finn Brunton and Helen Nissenbaum

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029735

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029735.001.0001

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Why Is Obfuscation Necessary?

Why Is Obfuscation Necessary?

(p.45) 3 Why Is Obfuscation Necessary?

Finn Brunton

Helen Nissenbaum

The MIT Press

This chapter concisely defines obfuscation in terms of data, and information and power asymmetries. What can those whose data is being collected know and do about how data about them is captured, accumulated, transmitted, analysed, and used? Discussing these challenges creates the context for the necessity of obfuscation in the larger domain of privacy strategies and techniques, including governmental regulation, business best practice, and purely technological solutions. The authors argue that “opting out” to protect private data is not a reasonable solution, and build on James C. Scott’s concept of “Weapons of the Weak” to distinguish obfuscation from other privacy approaches.

Keywords:   Surveillance, Philosophy, Privacy, Data, Obfuscation, Asymmetries

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