Some thoughts on privacy

Somebody on Quora asked, What is the social justification of privacy? adding, I am trying to ask about why individual privacy is important to society.

One would hardly ask to justify the need for privacy before the Internet came along; but it is a question now, because the Internet, like nature in the physical world, doesn’t come with privacy. We are naked by nature in both. The difference is that we’ve had many millennia to work out privacy in the physical world, and approximately two decades to do the same in the virtual one. That’s not enough time.


…In the online world, there is an assumption by those with the means to penetrate our private spaces (such as our browsers and email clients) and plant tracking beacons, that behaving in ways that would never be sanctioned in the physical world is okay in the virtual one because, hey, it’s easy to do, everybody does it, and it’s normative now, transparency is a Good Thing, it helps fund the “free” commercial sphere on the Web, etc. etc.

But it’s not okay. Just because something can be done doesn’t make it right. Nor is it right because it is, for now, normative.

Privacy norms should apply to the online world as well as they do to the offline one. And they will, soon enough, because we have advertising and tracking blockers now. These help create and guard private spaces in our online lives, by leaving unwanted ads and tracking files outside. These are primitive systems, so far, but they do work and are sure to evolve.

Source: Some thoughts on privacy

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