The Right to Personal Identity in the Information Age: A reappraisal of a lost right
Title: The Right to Personal Identity in the Information Age: A reappraisal of a lost right
Author: GOMES DE ANDRADE, Norberto Nuno
Series/Report no.: EUI PhD theses; Department of Law
This thesis presents a novel conceptualization of the right to personal identity: one that is adapted to the current technological environment in which we live, and that anticipates future technological developments. The study provides a comprehensive analysis of the right to personal identity, tracing its historical origins and main juridical developments from the Roman period to the present (and future) time. It also distinguishes the right to identity from other rights (such as the right to privacy and the right to data protection), thus contributing to the autonomy of this legal figure. This study puts forward a reconceptualization of the right to personal identity as a right that encompasses, controls and protects a series of different types of information related to or constitutive of our personal identity (digital, genetic, neural). Further to a right over information, the right to identity is presented as a right that regulates a series of identity movements and transformations between different ontological levels of “being” (possible <-> real; actual <-> virtual). Thus, the right to identity is the right to have one’s identity attributes registered (real <-> possible), as well as the right to be recognized and identified (possible <-> real) according to those defining features. The right to identity also encompasses the right to be represented as one wishes (virtual ?? actual) – that is, the right not to be misrepresented; the right to multiple identities (virtual <-> actual) – that is, the right to create, control and uphold different identities in digital environments (such as pseudonyms and heteronyms); and the right to delete and recreate oneself (actual <-> virtual), an identity movement that encompasses the right to be forgotten (and, consequently, the right to start again), as well as the eventual right to undergo genetic (post-human) and neural (memoryediting/ deletion) transformations. Following a postmodern conception of identity (as antiessentialistic, dynamic and multiple), the right to personal identity is defined as the right to be unique and different, not only from others but also from oneself. Further to this theoretical framework, the thesis also presents the foundations for an identity-regulatory system that grants the individual with the necessary and operational means to manage, control, change or delete his or her identity(ies).
Defence date: 24 February 2012; Examining Board: Prof. Giovanni Sartor, EUI/Supervisor ; Prof. Miguel Poiares Maduro, EUI ; Prof. Yves Poullet, University of Namur ; Prof. Jon Bing, Norwegian Research Center for Computers and Law
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