Contextual Integrity through the Lens of Computer Science (Foundations and Trends(r) in Privacy and Security)

Sebastian Benthall, Seda Gürses, Helen Nissenbaum



The theory of Privacy as Contextual Integrity (CI) defines privacy as appropriate information flow according to norms specific to social contexts or spheres. CI has had uptake in different subfields of computer science research. Computer scientists using CI have innovated as they have implemented the theory and blended it with other traditions, such as context-aware computing.

Contextual Integrity through the Lens of Computer Science examines computer science literature using Contextual Integrity and discovers: (1) the way CI is used depends on the technical architecture of the system being designed, (2) ‘context’ is interpreted variously in this literature, only sometimes consistently with CI, (3) computer scientists do not engage in the normative aspects of CI, instead drawing from their own disciplines to motivate their work, and (4) this work reveals many areas where CI can sharpen or expand to be more actionable to computer scientists. It identifies many theoretical gaps in CI exposed by this research and invites computer scientists to do more work exploring the horizons of CI.