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Privacy (from Latin privatus 'separated from the rest, deprived of something, esp. office, participation in the government', from privo 'to deprive') is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share basic common themes. Privacy is sometimes related to anonymity, the wish to remain unnoticed or unidentified in the public realm. When something is private to a person, it usually means there is something within them that is considered inherently special or personally sensitive. The degree to which private information is exposed therefore depends on how the public will receive this information, which differs between places and over time. Privacy is broader than security and includes the concepts of appropriate use and protection of information.

The right against unsanctioned invasion of privacy by the government, corporations or individuals is part of many countries' privacy laws, and in some cases, constitutions. Almost all countries have laws which in some way limit privacy; an example of this would be law concerning taxation, which normally require the sharing of information about personal income or earnings. In some countries individual privacy may conflict with freedom of speech laws and some laws may require public disclosure of information which would be considered private in other countries and cultures. Privacy may be voluntarily sacrificed, normally in exchange for perceived benefits and very often with specific dangers and losses, although this is a very strategic view of human relationships. Academics who are economists, evolutionary theorists, and research psychologists describe revealing privacy as a 'voluntary sacrifice', where sweepstakes or competitions are involved. In the business world, a person may give personal details (often for advertising purposes) in order to enter a gamble of winning a prize. Information which is voluntarily shared and is later stolen or misused can lead to identity theft.

The concept of privacy is most often associated with Western culture, English and North American in particular. According to some researchers, the concept of privacy sets Anglo-American culture apart even from other Western European cultures such as French or Italian.[1] The concept is not universal and remained virtually unknown in some cultures until recent times. A word "privacy" is sometimes regarded as untranslatable[2] by linguists. Many languages lack a specific word for "privacy". Such languages either use a complex description to translate the term (such as Russian combine meaning of уединение - solitude, секретность - secrecy, and частная жизнь - private life) or borrow English "privacy" (as Indonesian Privasi or Italian la privacy)[2].

Contents

Types of privacy

The term "privacy" means many things in different contexts. Different people, cultures, and nations have a wide variety of expectations about how much privacy a person is entitled to or what constitutes an invasion of privacy.

Physical

Physical privacy could be defined as preventing "intrusions into one's physical space or solitude"[3] This would include such concerns as:

  • preventing intimate acts or one's body from being seen by others for the purpose of modesty; apart from being dressed this can be achieved by walls, fences, privacy screens, cathedral glass, partitions between urinals, by being far away from others, on a bed by a bed sheet or a blanket, when changing clothes by a towel, etc.; to what extent these measures also prevent acts being heard varies
  • video, as aptly named graphics, or intimate acts, behaviors or body part
  • preventing unwelcome searching of one's personal possessions
  • preventing unauthorized access to one's home or vehicle
  • medical privacy, the right to make fundamental medical decisions without governmental coercion or third party review, most widely applied to questions of contraception

An example of the legal basis for the right to physical privacy would be the US Fourth Amendment, which guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures",[4]. Most countries have laws regarding trespassing and property rights also determine the right of physical privacy.

Physical privacy may be a matter of cultural sensitivity, personal dignity, or shyness. There may also be concerns about safety, if for example one has concerns about being the victim of crime or stalking.[5]

Informational

Data privacy refers to the evolving relationship between technology and the legal right to, or public expectation of privacy in the collection and sharing of data about one's self. Privacy concerns exist wherever uniquely identifiable data relating to a person or persons are collected and stored, in digital form or otherwise. In some cases these concerns refer to how data is collected, stored, and associated. In other cases the issue is who is given access to information. Other issues include whether an individual has any ownership rights to data about them, and/or the right to view, verify, and challenge that information.

Various types of personal information often come under privacy concerns. For various reasons, individuals may not wish for personal information such as their religion, sexual orientation, political affiliations, or personal activities to be revealed. This may be to avoid discrimination, personal embarrassment, or damage to one's professional reputation.

Financial privacy, in which information about a person's financial transactions is guarded, is important for the avoidance of fraud or identity theft. Information about a person's purchases can also reveal a great deal about that person's history, such as places they have visited, whom they have had contact with, products they use, their activities and habits, or medications they have used.

Internet privacy is the ability to control what information one reveals about oneself over the Internet, and to control who can access that information. These concerns include whether email can be stored or read by third parties without consent, or whether third parties can track the web sites someone has visited. Another concern is whether web sites which are visited collect, store, and possibly share personally identifiable information about users. Tools used to protect privacy on the internet include encryption tools and anonymizing services like I2P and tor.

Medical privacy allows a person to keep their medical records from being revealed to others. This may be because they have concern that it might affect their insurance coverage or employment. Or it may be because they would not wish for others to know about medical or psychological conditions or treatment which would be embarrassing. Revealing medical data could also reveal other details about one's personal life (such as about one's sexual activity for example).

Sexual privacy prevents a person from being forced to carry a pregnancy to term and enables individuals to acquire and use contraceptives and safe sex supplies and information without community or legal review

Political privacy has been a concern since voting systems emerged in ancient times. The secret ballot is the simplest and most widespread measure to ensure that political views are not known to anyone other than the original voter — it is nearly universal in modern democracy, and considered a basic right of citizenship. In fact even where other rights of privacy do not exist, this type of privacy very often does.

Organizational

Governments agencies, corporations, and other organizations may desire to keep their activities or secrets from being revealed to other organizations or individuals. Such organizations may implement various security practices in order to prevent this. Organizations may seek legal protection for their secrets. For example, a government administration may be able to invoke executive privilege[6] or declares certain information to be classified, or a corporation might attempt to protect trade secrets.[4]

Spiritual and intellectual

The earliest development of privacy rights began under British common law, which protected "only the physical interference of life and property." Its development from then on became "one of the most significant chapters in the history of privacy law."[7] Privacy rights gradually expanded to include a "recognition of man's spiritual nature, of his feelings and his intellect."[7] Eventually, the scope of those rights broadened even further to include a basic "right to be let alone," and the former definition of "property" would then comprise "every form of possession -- intangible, as well as tangible." By the late 19th century, interest in a "right to privacy" grew as a response to the growth of print media, especially newspapers.[7]

History of privacy

Privacy and technology

Advertisement for dial telephone service available to delegates to the 1912 Republican convention in Chicago. A major selling point of dial telephone service was that it was "secret", in that no operator was required to connect the call.

As technology has advanced, the way in which privacy is protected and violated has changed with it. In the case of some technologies, such as the printing press or the Internet, the increased ability to share information can lead to new ways in which privacy can be breached. It is generally agreed [8] that the first publication advocating privacy in the United States was the article by Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, The Right to Privacy, 4 Harvard L.R. 193 (1890), that was written largely in response to the increase in newspapers and photographs made possible by printing technologies.[9]

New technologies can also create new ways to gather private information. For example, in the U.S. it was thought that heat sensors intended to be used to find marijuana growing operations would be acceptable. However in 2001 in Kyllo v. United States (533 U.S. 27) it was decided that thermal imaging devices that can reveal previously unknown information without a warrant does indeed constitute a violation of privacy.[10]

Generally the increased ability to gather and send information has had negative implications for retaining privacy. As large scale information systems become more common, there is so much information stored in many databases worldwide that an individual has no way of knowing of or controlling all of the information about themselves that others may have access to. Such information could potentially be sold to others for profit and/or be used for purposes not known to the individual of which the information is about. The concept of information privacy has become more significant as more systems controlling more information appear. Also the consequences of a violation of privacy can be more severe. Privacy law in many countries has had to adapt to changes in technology in order to address these issues and maintain people's rights to privacy as they see fit. But the existing global privacy rights framework has also been criticized as incoherent and inefficient. Proposals such as the APEC Privacy Framework have emerged which set out to provide the first comprehensive legal framework on the issue of global data privacy.

The right to privacy

Privacy uses the theory of natural rights, and generally responds to new information and communication technologies. In North America, Samuel D. Warren and Louis D. Brandeis wrote that privacy is the “right to be let alone” (Warren & Brandeis, 1890) focuses on protecting individuals. This citation was a response to recent technological developments, such as photography, and sensationalist journalism, also known as yellow journalism. Warren and Brandeis declared that information which was previously hidden and private could now be "shouted from the rooftops."[11]

Privacy rights are inherently intertwined with information technology. In his widely cited dissenting opinion in Olmstead v. United States (1928), Brandeis relied on thoughts he developed in his Harvard Law Review article in 1890. But in his dissent, he now changed the focus whereby he urged making personal privacy matters more relevant to constitutional law, going so far as saying "the government [was] identified . . . as a potential privacy invader." He writes, "Discovery and invention have made it possible for the Government, by means far more effective than stretching upon the rack, to obtain disclosure in court of what is whispered in the closet." At that time, telephones were often community assets, with shared party lines and the potentially nosey human operators. By the time of Katx, in 1967, telephones had become personal devices with lines not shared across homes and switching was electro-mechanical. In the 1970’s, new computing and recording technologies began to raise concerns about privacy, resulting in the Fair Information Practice Principles.

An individual right

Alan Westin believes that new technologies alter the balance between privacy and disclosure, and that privacy rights may limit government surveillance to protect democratic processes. Westin defines privacy as "the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others". Westin describes four states of privacy: solitude, intimacy, anonymity, reserve. These states must balance participation against norms:

Each individual is continually engaged in a personal adjustment process in which he balances the desire for privacy with the desire for disclosure and communication of himself to others, in light of the environmental conditions and social norms set by the society in which he lives. - Alan Westin, Privacy and Freedom, 1968[12]

Under liberal democratic systems, privacy creates a space separate from political life, and allows personal autonomy, while ensuring democratic freedoms of association and expression.

David Flaherty believes networked computer databases pose threats to privacy. He develops 'data protection' as an aspect of privacy, which involves "the collection, use, and dissemination of personal information". This concept forms the foundation for fair information practices used by governments globally. Flaherty forwards an idea of privacy as information control, "[i]ndividuals want to be left alone and to exercise some control over how information about them is used" [13].

Richard Posner and Lawrence Lessig focus on the economic aspects of personal information control. Posner criticizes privacy for concealing information, which reduces market efficiency. For Posner, employment is selling oneself in the labour market, which he believes is like selling a product. Any 'defect' in the 'product' that is not reported is fraud [14]. For Lessig, privacy breaches online can be regulated through code and law. Lessig claims "the protection of privacy would be stronger if people conceived of the right as a property right", and that "individuals should be able to control information about themselves" [15]. Economic approaches to privacy make communal conceptions of privacy difficult to maintain.

A collective value and a human right

There have been attempts to reframe privacy as a fundamental human right, whose social value is an essential component in the functioning of democratic societies.[citation needed] Amitai Etzioni suggests a communitarian approach to privacy. This requires a shared moral culture for establishing social order [16]. Etzioni believes that "[p]rivacy is merely one good among many others"[17], and that technological effects depend on community accountability and oversight (ibid). He claims that privacy laws only increase government surveillance [18].

Priscilla Regan believes that individual concepts of privacy have failed philosophically and in policy. She supports a social value of privacy with three dimensions: shared perceptions, public values, and collective components. Shared ideas about privacy allows freedom of conscience and diversity in thought. Public values guarantee democratic participation, including freedoms of speech and association, and limits government power. Collective elements describe privacy as collective good that cannot be divided. Regan's goal is to strengthen privacy claims in policy making: "if we did recognize the collective or public-good value of privacy, as well as the common and public value of privacy, those advocating privacy protections would have a stronger basis upon which to argue for its protection"[19].

Leslie Regan Shade argues that the human right to privacy is necessary for meaningful democratic participation, and ensures human dignity and autonomy. Privacy depends on norms for how information is distributed, and if this is appropriate. Violations of privacy depend on context. The human right to privacy has precedent in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."[20] Shade believes that privacy must be approached from a people-centered perspective, and not through the marketplace.[21]

Privacy protection

Free market versus consumer protection approaches

Approaches to privacy can, broadly, be divided into two categories: free market, and consumer protection.[22] In a free market approach, commercial entities are largely allowed to do what they wish, with the expectation that consumers will choose to do business with corporations that respect their privacy to a desired degree. If some companies are not sufficiently respectful of privacy, they will lose market share. Such an approach may be limited by lack of competition in a market, by enterprises not offering privacy options favorable to the user, or by lack of information about actual privacy practices. Claims of privacy protection made by companies may be difficult for consumers to verify, except when they have already been violated.

In a consumer protection approach, in contrast, it is acknowledged that individuals may not have the time or knowledge to make informed choices, or may not have reasonable alternatives available. In support of this view, Jensen and Potts showed that most privacy policies are above the reading level of the average person .[23] Therefore, this approach advocates greater government definition and enforcement of privacy standards.

Privacy law

Privacy law is the area of law concerning the protecting and preserving of privacy rights of individuals. While there is no universally accepted privacy law among all countries, some organizations promote certain concepts be enforced by individual countries. For example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 12, states:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

For Europe, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the right to respect for private and family life, one's home and correspondence. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has developed a large body of jurisprudence defining this fundamental right to privacy.[citation needed] The European Union requires all member states to legislate to ensure that citizens have a right to privacy, through directives such as the 1995 Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of personal data. It is regulated in the United Kingdom by the Data Protection Act 1998 and in France data protection is also monitored by the CNIL, a governmental body which must authorize legislation concerning privacy before them being enacted.

In the United Kingdom, it is not possible to bring an action for invasion of privacy. An action may be brought under another tort (usually breach of confidence) and privacy must then be considered under EC law. In the UK, it is sometimes a defense that disclosure of private information was in the public interest.[24]

Concerning privacy laws of the United States, privacy is not guaranteed per se by the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court of the United States has found that other guarantees have "penumbras" that implicitly grant a right to privacy against government intrusion, for example in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). In the United States, the right of freedom of speech granted in the First Amendment has limited the effects of lawsuits for breach of privacy. Privacy is regulated in the U.S. by the Privacy Act of 1974, and various state laws.

Canadian privacy law is governed federally by multiple acts, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Privacy Act (Canada). Mostly this legislation concerns privacy infringement by government organizations. Data privacy was first addressed with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, and provincial-level legislation also exists to account for more specific cases personal privacy protection against commercial organizations.

In Australia there is the Privacy Act 1988. Privacy sector provisions of the Act apply to private sector organisations with a link to Australia, including: 1. individuals who collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of a business. For example, a sole trader's business activities will be regulated (unless it's a small business), but information gathered outside business activities won't be; 2. bodies corporate; and 3. partnerships, unincorporated associations and trusts - any act or practice of a partner, committee member or trustee is attributed to the organisation. Organisations outside Australia must comply with the provisions in some circumstances. Sending information out of Australia is also regulated.[25]

Privacy on the Internet

There are many means to protect one's privacy on the internet. For example e-mails can be encrypted[26] and anonymizing proxies or anonymizing networks like I2P and tor can be used in order to prevent the internet service providers from knowing which sites one visits and with whom one communicates.

See also

References

  1. ^ Gramota.ru
  2. ^ a b Translation Today
  3. ^ Managing Privacy: Information Technology and Corporate America By H. Jeff
  4. ^ a b Fixing the Fourth Amendment with trade secret law: A response to Kyllo v. United States | Georgetown Law Journal | Find Articles at BNET.com
  5. ^ Security Recommendations For Stalking Victims
  6. ^ FindLaw's Writ - Amar: Executive Privilege
  7. ^ a b c Solove, Daniel J., Rotenberg, Marc, Schwartz, Paul M. Privacy, Information, and Technology, Aspen Publ. (2006) pp. 9-11
  8. ^ Information Privacy, Official Reference for the Certified Information privacy Professional (CIPP), Swire, P.P [1]. and Bermann, S. (2007)
  9. ^ Privacy Law in the United States
  10. ^ Privacy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  11. ^ Warren and Brandeis, "The Right To Privacy", 4 Harvard Law Review 193 (1890)
  12. ^ Westin, A. (1968). Privacy and freedom (Fifth ed.). New York, U.S.A.: Atheneum.
  13. ^ Flaherty, D. (1989). Protecting privacy in surveillance societies: The federal republic of Germany, Sweden, France, Canada, and the United States. Chapel Hill, U.S.: The University of North Carolina Press.
  14. ^ Posner, R. A. (1981). The economics of privacy. The American Economic Review, 71(2), 405-409.
  15. ^ Lessig, L. (2006). Code: Version 2.0. New York, U.S.: Basic Books.
  16. ^ Etzioni, A. (2006). Communitarianism. In B. S. Turner (Ed.), The Cambridge Dictionary of Sociology (pp. 81-83). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  17. ^ Etzioni, A. (2007). Are new technologies the enemy of privacy? Knowledge, Technology & Policy, 20, 115-119.
  18. ^ Etzioni, A. (2000). A communitarian perspective on privacy. Connecticut Law Review, 32(3), 897-905.
  19. ^ Regan, P. M. (1995). Legislating privacy: Technology, social values, and public policy. Chapel Hill, U.S.: The University of North Carolina Press.
  20. ^ United Nations. (1948). Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Retrieved October 7, 2006 from http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html
  21. ^ Shade, L. R. (2008). Reconsidering the right to privacy in Canada. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 28(1), 80-91.
  22. ^ Quinn, Michael J. (2009). Ethics for the Information Age. ISBN 0-321-53685-1. 
  23. ^ Jensen, Carlos (2004). Privacy policies as decision-making tools: an evaluation of online privacy notices. 
  24. ^ Does Beckham judgment change rules?, from BBC News (retrieved 27 April 2005).
  25. ^ http://www.privacy.gov.au/law/act
  26. ^ Eudora 3.05 was released with PGP built in, and then quickly followed by 3.06 without PGP.Eudora Light 3.0.5

Further reading

  • Judith Wagner DeCew, 1997, In Pursuit of Privacy: Law, Ethics, and the Rise of Technology, Ithaca: Cornell University Press
  • Ruth Gavison, "Privacy and the Limits of the Law," in Michael J. Gorr and Sterling Harwood, eds., Crime and Punishment: Philosophic Explorations (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 2000, formerly Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1996), paperback, 552 pages, pp. 46–68.
  • Steve Lohr, "How Privacy Can Vanish Online, a Bit at a Time", The New York Times, Wednesday, March 17, 2010
  • Judith Jarvis Thomson, "The Right to Privacy," in Michael J. Gorr and Sterling Harwood, eds., Crime and Punishment: Philosophic Explorations (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 2000, formerly Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1995), 552 pages, pp. 34–46.
  • Rita Watson and Menahem Blondheim (eds.), The Toronto School of Communication Theory: Interpretations, Extensions and Applications (Toronto and Jerusalem: University of Toronto Press and Magnes Press, 2007)
  • A. Westin, 1967, Privacy and Freedom, New York: Atheneum
  • Robert Ellis Smith, 2004, "Ben Franklin's Web Site, Privacy and Curiosity from Plymouth Rock to the Internet," Providence: Privacy Journal
  • Bruce Schneier, Privacy in the Age of Persistence

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively.

Sourced

  • I am grateful that I have rights in the proverbial public square--but, as a practical matter, my most cherished rights are those that I possess in my bedroom and hospital room and death chamber.
  • It is easy to let men alone when they do things our way. The test of a truly enlightened civilization is one that lets people alone, to pursue their own predilections, even when the majority of us prefer to live our lives very differently from theirs.
  • We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government.
    • William Orville Douglas, dissenting, Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 341 (1966)
  • The saint and poet seek privacy to ends the most public and universal: and it is the secret of culture, to interest the man more in his public, than in his private quality.
  • There is a sacred realm of privacy for every man and woman where he makes his choices and decisions—a realm of his own essential rights and liberties into which the law, generally speaking, must not intrude.
    • Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury, Look magazine (March 17, 1959)
  • Who could deny that privacy is a jewel? It has always been the mark of privilege, the distinguishing feature of a truly urbane culture. Out of the cave, the tribal tepee, the pueblo, the community fortress, man emerged to build himself a house of his own with a shelter in it for himself and his diversions. Every age has seen it so. The poor might have to huddle together in cities for need’s sake, and the frontiersman cling to his neighbors for the sake of protection. But in each civilization, as it advanced, those who could afford it chose the luxury of a withdrawing-place.
    • Phyllis McGinley, “A Lost Privilege,” The Province of the Heart (1959)
  • For what reason have I this vast range and circuit, some square miles of unfrequented forest, for my privacy, abandoned to me by men? My nearest neighbor is a mile distant, and no house is visible from any place but the hill-tops within half a mile of my own. I have my horizon bounded by woods all to myself; a distant view of the railroad where it touches the pond on the one hand, and of the fence which skirts the woodland road on the other. But for the most part it is as solitary where I live as on the prairies. It is as much Asia or Africa as New England. I have, as it were, my own sun and moon and stars, and a little world all to myself.

Unsourced

External links

Wikipedia
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Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

Fall 2009 Course Content

Privacy Outline Fall 2009

Privacy Cases Fall 2009

Privacy Lecture Fall 2009

Privacy Case Discussion Fall 2009

Other Resources

Reporting an alcoholic patient Randy Cohan, The Ethicist, New York Times, September 6, 2009. Listen to Letter #2.-- Taylor Raftery 7:06, 11th of September 2009








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