case studies, and a survey of university students.The aim was to identify ways to better preserve ourright to privacy in today’s ultra-modern world, aswell as to secure a safer life and promote ways of harmony.
2 Some Differences inUnderstanding of the Concept of ‘Privacy’
The concept of ‘privacy’ is dynamic, and haschanged as society has evolved. Privacy is alsointerpreted differently in different cultures.
The term ‘privacy’ changes as the times we live inchange, and such transformations will continue, asthe term ‘privacy’ had become “informationallyenriched” by computer technology . In the earlytwentieth century in China there was almost no hometelephone number, no credit card, no personal socialsecurity number, and of course no informationsystem (IS). Compared to today, the meaning of privacy was rather narrow. Currently, data such asyour credit card password, email account password,fingerprint, digital photos, cell-phone number, andeven your CV document are judged to be items thatshould be private. The concept of privacy hasbecome more complicated and has broadened.Westerner describes privacy as “the claim of individuals, groups or institutions to determine forthemselves when, how, and to what extentinformation about them is communicated to others”. In Western, privacy has been considered as oneof the most important needs of people. “Withoutprivacy, we lose our very integrity as persons.”(Charles Fried, 1968).Clearly the increasing development of ICT as acommunication mode therefore is a factor in theconcern about privacy: widespread use of ICT itself threatens personal information security. For instance,RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology,database data mining techniques, and wireless homenetworks result in significant potential risks thatsuch sensitive data might be leaked to others or tothe public. So we can say the more advanced ICTbecomes, the more risk there is to the safety of personal details.Scholars in China consider the personalinformation as data like name, date of birth,identification card number, Hu Kou, genetic data,fingerprint, marriage, family, education, profession,health, financial condition and whatever to identifythe person. Personal Information ProtectionLaw(Draft), which was started in 2005, has beensubmitted to the State Council for discussion. In thisdraft of law, personal information is defined as allinformation to identify one particular personincluding paper document, audio and vidio records,fingerprint or even archives. And even more, on the25th of August 2008, the 4th Conference of theStanding Committee of the 11th National People’sCongress (NPC) deliberated on The 7th Amendmentto the PRC Criminal Law (draft). The Draft is thefirst time a proposal for providing protection of personal information by imposing criminal chargesfor violations on such information was put forward.
2.2 Cultural differences
Mirroring historical differences in the understandingof privacy is the fact that generations of youngpeople in different cultures hold different viewsabout the scope of privacy. The ETHICOMP surveyof professional practice  indicated that collegestudents in both the UK and China thought that theprivacy of data was not very important. The Chineseperspective and understanding is that private data aredata that you do not wish others to know about, suchas information about your family’s property, lovelife, and health condition. However, in Westerncultures, there is a much larger range of items thatare held to be sensitive personal data, includingsalary, religion, the number of children in yourfamily, personal medical records, a woman’s age,marital status, sexual life, and political preference.Thus compared with Chinese culture, Westernculture is more sensitive about personal privacy andthe meaning of ‘privacy’ is considerably wider .In China, people are not particularly anxious aboutdiscussing topics such as “How much money do youearn”, “Have you married”, “What kind of illness doyou have”. Thus an information system that includespersonal data may be acceptable in one country, butit may be considered insecure in another country.Perceptions of security are affected by culturaldifferences and social environments.According to Moor’s theory of privacy ,privacy is one expression of the core values of security, and therefore privacy must be maintainedand respected. Privacy corresponds to security: youwill feel safe living in a society in which yourprivacy is well preserved, and vice versa. Currentlywhen one talks about privacy and security, it isinformation system security that is considered,because in this Internet world, our personal data isstored in IS systems .
WSEAS TRANSACTIONS onINFORMATION SCIENCE and APPLICATIONSJi-Xuan Feng, Janet HughesISSN: 1790-0832127Issue 1, Volume 6, January 2009