Privacy concerns control over access to matters and information pertaining to a person’s activities, person, and property. What is private (for each of us) defines a sphere within which we can be free from interference by others—a sphere within which we can control physical access to ourselves and our property and control access to information and data which we create or which pertains to ourselves. Your home is legally a private domain because access to it is restricted to you and your family members and you control who else may have legal access to it (with certain narrowly prescribed legal exceptions). Your medical history is private because access to it is legally restricted to you and your doctor, and you have control over who else can have legal access to that information.
A right to privacy is a right to control access to information, to oneself, and to one’s property. The legal right to privacy varies with jurisdiction and is typically grounded in a moral right to privacy. The moral right to privacy is often grounded in a moral duty to respect the dignity and autonomy of others as self-directing agents. Respect for the autonomy of others requires respect of their choices, including choices about what to reveal about themselves, and access to their selves and their property.
Data and information privacy concerns control of access specifically to data and information. Data, information or content (henceforth ‘data’) which is about you, which you assemble or create or which is the product of your labor, is private to the extent that access is restricted to you and to those you give permission to access it.
- Privacy, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Francis, L. P. and Francis, J. G., 2017, Privacy: What Everyone Needs to Know, Oxford: Oxford University Press.