In response to rising public awareness of information privacy, principles addressing the privacy of information have evolved and converged around a set of basic principles such as, for example, the Code of Fair Information Practice. Legislative developments such as the 1995 European Union's enactment of the Data Privacy Directive and the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 have heightened awareness of ethical dilemmas related to this issue. Nevertheless, these and similar privacy-related efforts need to build firmer ground for the ethics of handling personal information.
Why distinguish personal information from other types of information? Is it possible to narrowly define personal information in order to provide a workable object of study? Is there a coherent field of study of the ethics of handling personal information? Is personal information privacy different from other kinds of privacy? In this context, the goal of this paper is to focus the study of personal information on its relationship to privacy and ethics.