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Privacy

Privacy

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Published by Raymond Koo

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Published by: Raymond Koo on Aug 30, 2010
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Privacy
Privacy
(from Latin
 '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 revealthemselves selectively. The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share basic common themes. Privacy is sometimesrelated toanonymity, 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 themthat is considered inherently special or personally sensitive. The degree to which privateinformation is exposed therefore depends on how the public will receive this information,which differs between places and over time. Privacy is broader thansecurityand includesthe concepts of appropriate use and protection of information.The right against unsanctioned invasion of privacy by thegovernment, corporationsor  individualsis 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 thiswould be law concerningtaxation, which normally require the sharing of informationabout personal income or earnings.In some countries individual privacy may conflictwithfreedom of speechlaws and some laws may require public disclosure of informationwhich would be considered private in other countries and cultures. Privacy may bevoluntarily sacrificed, normally in exchange for perceived benefits and very often withspecific dangers and losses, although this is a very strategic view of human relationships.Academics who are economists, evolutionary theorists, and research psychologistsdescribe revealing privacy as a 'voluntary sacrifice', where sweepstakes or competitionsare 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 isvoluntarily shared and is later stolen or misused can lead toidentity theft.The concept of privacy is most often associated withWestern culture, English and NorthAmerican in particular. According to some researchers, the concept of privacy setsAnglo-Americanculture apart even from other Western European cultures such as Frenchor Italian. The concept is not universal and remained virtually unknown in some culturesuntil recent times. A word "privacy" is sometimes regarded asuntranslatable by linguists.Many languages lack a specific word for "privacy". Such languages either use a complexdescription 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
).
 
Privacy and technology
Advertisement for dial telephone service available to delegates to the 1912Republican convention inChicago. 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 haschanged with it. In the case of some technologies, such as the printing pressor theInternet,the increased ability to share information can lead to new ways in which privacycan be breached. It is generally agreed that the first publication advocating privacy in theUnited Stateswas the article bySamuel WarrenandLouis Brandeis,The Right to Privacy, 4 Harvard L.R. 193 (1890),that was written largely in response to the increasein newspapers and photographs made possible by printing technologies. 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 growingoperations would be acceptable. However in 2001 inKyllo v. United States(533 U.S. 27)it was decided thatthermal imagingdevices that can reveal previously unknowninformation without a warrant does indeed constitute a violation of privacy.Generally the increased ability to gather and send information has had negativeimplications for retaining privacy. As large scaleinformation systemsbecome morecommon, there is so much information stored in many databases worldwide that anindividual has no way of knowing of or controlling all of the information aboutthemselves that others may have access to. Such information could potentially be sold toothers for profit and/or be used for purposes not known to the individual of which theinformation is about. The concept of information privacyhas become more significant asmore systems controlling more information appear. Also the consequences of a violationof privacy can be more severe.Privacy lawin many countries has had to adapt to changes
 
in technology in order to address these issues and maintain people's rights to privacy asthey see fit. But the existing global privacy rights framework has also been criticized asincoherent and inefficient. Proposals such as theAPECPrivacy Framework haveemerged which set out to provide the first comprehensive legal framework on the issue of global data privacy.
Privacy and the Internet
The Internet has brought new concerns about privacy in an age where computers can permanently store records of everything: "where every online photo, status update,Twitter post and blog entry by and about us can be stored forever," writes law professor and author Jeffrey Rosen.This currently has an effect on employment. Microsoft reports that 75 percent of U.S.recruiters and human-resource professionals now do online research about candidates,often using information provided by search engines, social-networking sites, photo/video-sharing sites, personal web sites and blogs, and Twitter. They also report that 70 percentof U.S. recruiters have rejected candidates based on internet information. This has createda need by many to control various online privacy settings in addition to controlling their online reputations, both of which have led to legal suits against various sites andemployers.The ability to do online inquiries about individuals has expanded dramatically over thelast decade.Facebook for example, as of July 2010, was the largest social-networkingsite, with nearly 500 million members, or 22 percent of all Internet users, who uploadover 25 billion pieces of content each month.Twitter has more than 100 millionregistered users. TheLibrary of Congressrecently announced that it will be acquiring — and permanently storing — the entire archive of public Twitter posts since 2006, reportsRosen.
Privacy protection
Free market versus consumer protection approaches
Approaches to privacy can, broadly, be divided into two categories: free market, andconsumer protection. In a free market approach, commercial entities are largely allowedto do what they wish, with the expectation that consumers will choose to do business withcorporations that respect their privacy to a desired degree. If some companies are notsufficiently respectful of privacy, they will lose market share. Such an approach may belimited by lack of competition in a market, by enterprises not offering privacy optionsfavorable 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, exceptwhen they have already been violated.In a consumer protection approach, in contrast, it is acknowledged that individuals maynot have the time or knowledge to make informed choices, or may not have reasonable

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