Privacy Beyond Intellectual Freedom

Libraries and Digital Self-Sovereignty


  • Juliana Mestre Rutgers



philosophy of information, privacy, surveillance


In this paper, critical methods are used to develop a tri-part argument surrounding data privacy and its implications on digital self-sovereignty in the context of libraries. First, the introduction is used to expand on the changing landscape of privacy and librarianship in relation to the data collection rife among library vendors. Second, I turn to the philosophy of information to establish how personal data, as personally identifiable information, are integral to the constitution of the self and thus to digital self-sovereignty. Third, Derridean theory is used to explain how a loss of digital self-sovereignty impacts the very possibility of ethical intersubjectivity. The goal of this paper is to challenge assumptions about data privacy, digital self-sovereignty, and the impact on ethical intersubjectivity in the 21st century, thus contributing to the philosophical scaffolding around privacy as a value for librarianship.


Capurro, R., Eldred, M., & Nagel, D. (2013). Digital Whoness: Identity, Privacy and Freedom in the Cyberworld. DE GRUYTER. DOI:

Derrida, J. (1999). Adieu to Emmanuel Levinas (W. Hamacher & D. Wellbery, Eds.; P.-A. Brault & M. Naas, Trans.). Stanford University Press. DOI:

Derrida, J. (2001). On cosmopolitanism and forgiveness (M. Dooley & M. Hughes, Trans.). Routledge.

Derrida, J., & Dufourmantelle, A. (2000). Of hospitality. Stanford University Press.

Floridi, L. (2005). The ontological interpretation of informational privacy. Ethics and Information Technology, 7(4), 185–200. DOI:

Floridi, L. (2011). The informational nature of personal identity. Minds and Machines, 21(4), 549–566. DOI:

Habermas, J. (2022). Reflections and hypotheses on a further structural transformation of the political public sphere. Theory, Culture & Society, 39(4), 145–171. DOI:

Lamdan, S. (2019). Librarianship at the crossroads of ICE surveillance. In the Library with a Lead Pipe.

Polonetsky, J., Tene, O., & Selinger, E. (2018). Consumer privacy and the future of society. In E. Selinger, J. Polonetsky, & O. Tene (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Consumer Privacy (1st ed., pp. 3–22). Cambridge University Press. DOI:

Privacy Field Guides For Libraries. American Library Association & The Institute for Museum and Library Services.

Roessler, B. (2015). Should personal data be a tradable good? On the moral limits of markets in privacy. In B. Roessler & D. Mokrosinska (Eds.), Social Dimensions of Privacy (1st ed., pp. 141–161). Cambridge University Press. DOI:

Steinberg, E. (2022). Run for your life: The ethics of behavioral tracking in insurance. Journal of Business Ethics, 179(3), 665–682. DOI:

Witt, S. (2017). The evolution of privacy within the American Library Association, 1906–2002. Library Trends, 65(4), 639–657. DOI:






Juried Papers