What Is Privacy?

Podcast of the Day

Although we assume a natural right to privacy, we readily give it away on our mobile phones and on social media websites. So as technology alters the very definition of what privacy is and the science of surveillance becomes ever more acute, is the idea of privacy little more than a quaint last-century notion? Mike Williams traces its history, and ponders what a society without privacy might look like.

Listen to The Why? Factor episode on Privacy

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Short Article of the Day

We learned on Tuesday that three billion Yahoo email accounts were compromised in 2013. In early September, it was Equifax’s 143 million credit reports. Just a few months before that, we learned 198 million United States voter records were leaked online in June.

Given the constant stream of breaches, it can be hard to understand what’s happening to our privacy over time. Two dates — one recent and one long ago — help explain this: Dec. 15, 1890, and May 23, 2017, are the two most important days in the history of privacy. The first signifies its creation as a legal concept, and the latter, while largely overlooked at the time, symbolizes something close to its end...

Continue reading Burt & Geer's article: The End of Privacy

Further Reading

Human beings value their privacy and the protection of their personal sphere of life. They value some control over who knows what about them. They certainly do not want their personal information to be accessible to just anyone at any time. But recent advances in information technology threaten privacy and have reduced the amount of control over personal data and open up the possibility of a range of negative consequences as a result of access to personal data. The 21st century has become the century of Big Data and advanced Information Technology allows for the storage and processing of exabytes of data. The revelations of Edward Snowden have demonstrated that these worries are real and that the technical capabilities to collect, store and search large quantities of data concerning telephone conversations, internet searches and electronic payment are now in place and are routinely used by government agencies. For business firms, personal data about customers and potential customers are now also a key asset. At the same time, the meaning and value of privacy remains the subject of considerable controversy. The combination of increasing power of new technology and the declining clarity and agreement on privacy give rise to problems concerning law, policy and ethics...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Privacy and Information Technology by Hove et al.

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