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Privacy, property rights and efficiency: The economics of privacy as secrecy

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  • Benjamin Hermalin

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  • Michael Katz

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Abstract

There is a long history of governmental efforts to protect personal privacy and strong debates about the merits of such policies. A central element of privacy is the ability to control the dissemination of personally identifiable data to private parties. Posner, Stigler, and others have argued that privacy comes at the expense of allocative efficiency. Others have argued that privacy issues are readily resolved by proper allocation of property rights to control information. Our principal findings challenge both views. We find: (a) privacy can be efficient even when there is no “taste” for privacy per se, and (b) to be effective, a privacy policy may need to ban information transmission or use rather than simply assign individuals control rights to their personally identifiable data. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2006

Suggested Citation

  • Benjamin Hermalin & Michael Katz, 2006. "Privacy, property rights and efficiency: The economics of privacy as secrecy," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 209-239, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:qmktec:v:4:y:2006:i:3:p:209-239
    DOI: 10.1007/s11129-005-9004-7
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    11. Varian, Hal R., 1989. "Price discrimination," Handbook of Industrial Organization,in: R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (ed.), Handbook of Industrial Organization, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 10, pages 597-654 Elsevier.
    12. George J. Stigler, 1980. "An Introduction to Privacy in Economics and Politics," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 10, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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