What is privacy? Екатерина В June 21, 2022

What is privacy?

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The right to privacy only sounds ancient and old. The word “privacy” was created relatively recently. In 1890, two American lawyers, Warren and Brandeis, published an article in the Harvard Law Review. They wrote that because of new technologies, people need the right to be alone with themselves, which they called “privacy”. Later, for inventing this word, Brandeis was appointed a judge of the Supreme court of the United States of America and participated in many cases where citizens’ right to privacy was protected.

There is a legend that the creation of the article is directly related to one situation which happened with Brandise. A visitor came to Brandeis’ house. While the Butler was calling for the host, the guest took out a Kodak camera that takes instant pictures and photographed the living room.

Brandeis was deeply affected by what had happened. He felt awkward: it was as if someone had stolen his personal thing. But as a lawyer, he understood that there was no violation of human rights.

This is probably why the article “the Right to privacy”, which stated that if it is now possible to take photos, it is necessary to protect people and their personal space. Scientists called this “privacy”, so the right to be alone with yourself was formulated as the definition of privacy. In Russian, the word “privacy” is identical to the expression “the inviolability of private and personal life”. It’s means, private life is privacy.

Types of privacy

There are 4 types of privacy: physical, territorial, communication, and informational. Let’s analyze each one in more detail.

Physical privacy

Physical is privacy with the body. The wearing of clothing to cover some parts of the body, the need to use sanitary rooms to meet physiological needs, protection from unwanted touching and violence — all these relate to physical privacy. An example of a violation of physical privacy is airport scanners. Their first models violated people’s right to privacy by showing the human body. Passengers didn’t like it very much, people protested and as a result achieved changes. Now the scanners do not show the body, but only its outline, and highlight objects that cause suspicion.

Territorial privacy

Territorial privacy is mean the territory that is, in your opinion, your personal space. This can be a house, apartment, personal locker, or car. No one has the right to invade a person’s space. This is guaranteed not only by national laws, but also by the universal Declaration of human rights.

Remember the cliche from American movies, when the main character’s house is searched by the police. In 9 out of 10 examples, the man will ask “Do you have a search warrant?” And he will be right, because invasion of personal space and violation of territorial privacy are possible only if it is required by law.

The most striking example of violation of territorial privacy is the game Pokemon Go. Using the camera and augmented reality mode, users had to follow the game’s instructions and search for pokemon. In addition to 100 million downloads on Google Play and the Apple Store, developers have also received countless complaints. The game didn’t take into account the boundaries of private property of citizens and offered players to search for pokemon on the territory of private homes, in municipal buildings, temples, etc. Due to numerous complaints from people who were tired of pokemon seekers running around their sites, the project had to be closed.

Communication privacy

Communication privacy protects the privacy of mail, telephone conversations, e-mails, and other communication methods. Trying to save it, we go to whispers, put letters in envelopes, write personal messages on social networks, and don’t correspond on a public wall.

Last summer, Facebook became a participant in the scandal. Bloomberg’s journalists found out that the company employed contractors to decrypt users’ voice messages. Users were outraged that their voice messages were accessed by third-party companies, since there wasn’t a word about this in the data usage policy. Facebook was forced to stop decrypting and apologize to its users.

Information privacy

Information privacy is related to the concepts of honor and dignity and their impact on life. Your colleagues, friends, and family form opinions based on what they know about you. Just one fact from life can change their attitude, affect their position in society. With the development of technology, we become hostages of information that has already been collected about us earlier.

Imagine that you are writing a resume and creating an image for an HR Manager that will describe you as a reasonable, educated, intelligent person. However, the HR specialists will study not only your perfectly written resume. They will check what is written about you on the Internet. And there HR Manager can find a link to a forum where you participated in a controversial discussion 10 years ago. It turns out that past mistakes affect the present.

With the development of technology, new generations actually lose the right to make a mistake, because if it gets on the Internet, it will never be forgotten.

It’s unlikely that somewhere there is information about the bad deeds of your great-grandparents. And it’s not because they didn’t make mistakes or say stupid things. It’s just that such information used to disappear, get lost, and be forgotten over time. The Internet has fundamentally changed things.

This new reality demanded from the European Union and other countries to adapt their legislation on the protection of privacy. GDPR is an example of this adaptation. The regulation creates barriers to the movement of data outside the Union and introduces rules on the protection of personal data, which are now followed by companies from all over the world.

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