Privacy (1948 – 2025?) was the most exotic human right. We gave it up in favor of convenience.
Officially born in 10 December 1948 at the Palais de Chaillot, Paris, France, when Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
Of all the human rights, privacy was perhaps the most difficult to define and circumscribe.
Privacy was mostly about the following old fashioned aspects, now all of them obsolete:
- Information Privacy, this was about the rules governing the collection and handling of personal data such as credit information and medical records;
- Bodily privacy, this was about the protection of people’s physical selves against invasive procedures such as drug testing and cavity searches;
- Privacy of communications, this was about the security and privacy of mail, telephones, email and other forms of communication;
- Territorial privacy, this was about setting of limits on intrusion into the domestic and other environments such as the workplace or public space.
Some visionaries considered privacy an anomaly long time ago, an anomaly “which has emerged out of the urban boom coming from the industrial revolution” (1).
Most of the expert participants in a research (2) conducted back in 2014 did not believe that “an accepted privacy-rights regime and infrastructure would be created in the coming decade“.
They were right and privacy slowly died, bit by bit, personal data by personal data.
Personal data are the raw material of the knowledge economy. Capturing personal data lies at the heart of the business models of the most successful technology firms. Governments’ default assumptions about citizens – don’t trust them – also helped.
The so called “Internet of Things” was the perfect tool to invade the human body, the workplaces, the domestic and public spaces with data collecting devices. This omnipresent surveillance system covers and penetrates all aspects which were defining the defunct privacy. It is the default and convenient way to solve our problems.
Some of us, old enough to remember the “golden years of privacy”, feel we missed to do the right things in the right time to preserve our privacy. We should have taken our security blanket more seriously.
1. Google’s Cerf Says “Privacy May Be An Anomaly”. Historically, He’s Right. – http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/20/googles-cerf-says-privacy-may-be-an-anomaly-historically-hes-right/
2. PEW Research: Privacy in 2025: Experts’ Predictions – DECEMBER 18, 2014 – http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/12/18/privacy-in-2025-experts-predictions/