Privacy Glossary S – Z

This is part of assignment one for the Privacy directed readings class.

Samuel D. Warren & Louis D. Brandeis The authors of the 1890 paper “The Right to Privacy” published in the Harvard Law Review, Dec. 15, 1890. The paper discusses the issue of privacy from the point of view of tort injuries. The paper defines a right to privacy and situations for which it does not apply including that the information is of general interest, that the information is slanderous or libelous, that it would not apply to oral publication, but would apply to written publication, and that the information had been published by the person involved. Also, the truth of the matter published or the lack of malice by the publisher are not defenses.

As Richards explains in “Intellectual Privacy,” this definition has been gradually affected by the existence of free speech rights from the constitution that eliminates many of the corresponding restrictions.

Secondary Use The privacy problem of use of information given for one purpose for other purposes. Secondary use can include selling one’s address and phone number to a marketing firm. Another is to use the information in other of Solove’s privacy problems such as the aggregation of information.

An additional form of secondary use comes when information is gathered through surveillance that is legally permitted for other purposes that do not have the approval of legislation. For example, using records captured by the NSA and GCHQ to assist criminal investigations unrelated to the intent of the surveillance.

Secrecy The concept that only one individual knows a piece of information. Generally, U.S. courts distinguish secrecy and confidentiality, when, normally, people consider them interchangeable.
Secrecy paradigm The concept that information to be protected by privacy laws must not be shared with other people. If information is shared with others, it is no longer secret and has lower protections. This paradigm ignores the natural concept of personal confidences and information shared only within a set group.
Security The right to be safe. In addition to physical safety, one wants emotional safety and the security to disagree with others, even governments or other power centers. Some privacy problems reduce security by giving the individual less control over their actions.
Social norms Privacy is defined and constrained by social norms. In different societies and at different times expectations of privacy are different.

For example, in western, modern societies, the home is not open to other to enter freely. In other societies, that behavior is acceptable. These change the members of those societies understanding of what is a private space or not. On the other hand, in the past, some forms of privacy were desirable, but not available. The privacy of one’s bed was not always practical but sexual activity was still desired to be private, even when that is difficult.

Standard Universal Identifier For the purpose of surveillance and information processing privacy problems, the existence of a standard universal identifier enhances the ability for these problems to appear. Often, there is protest against the creation of them such as a national ID card. Others are not as obvious so that Real ID licenses are less controversial.
Surveillance The privacy problem of gathering information about an individual or group without their consent. This can include using cameras, recorders or logs of phone calls and internet usage. Surveillance has a chilling effect on individual choices by changing behavior. Surveillance has beneficial qualities such as assisting with criminal investigations, but it also can be used to enforce norms of society too strictly. Having radical beliefs and acting in unconventional ways can be impeded by surveillance activities.
Telephone In privacy terms, the telephone’s regulation has changed over time. Until 1967 courts permitted surveillance of telephones. Due to the crime control act passed in 1968, domestic wiretaps must approved by state or federal courts. International investigations require approval by a separate Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act court created in 1978.
The right to be let alone The principle that others, and especially governments, should not be able to interfere with ones privacy and seclusion.
The right to read freely The right to gather information freely. The access to reading records such as library borrowing patterns is protected. The ability to purchase literature and own allows one to become a more valuable member of a democratic society. In “Intellectual Privacy,” Richards points out the paradox that one may purchase literature very discretely though the use of electronic books but that the information of purchases are kept outside of privacy protections.
Tort A system of law in which an injured party may receive restitution for the injuries.
United Declaration Universal Declaration of Human Rights A charter of human rights enacted after WW II that included privacy provisions.
What privacy entails? Privacy is multidimensional. The ideas that represent privacy and privacy rights violations cannot be unified into a single definition. The effects of decisional interference don’t correspond to the problems caused by aggregation of information.
Whispering wires Early court decisions about the privacy of telephones regarding telephone conversations and wiretapping lead to the labeling them as “whispering wires” At the time, party lines where several homes share the same telephone circuit were common and the ability to listen to others conversations was much easier.