privacy [English]

Other Languages

Syndetic Relationships

InterPARES Definition

n. ~ 1. A quality or state of seclusion, of keeping to one's self, and being free from intrusion or public scrutiny. – 2. Control over access and use of one's personal information.

General Notes

In US law, invasion of privacy includes an unauthorized appropriation of an individual's name or likeness for personal benefit; the interference in a person's seclusion or personal affairs that is offensive and intentional; the public disclosure of private information, especially for offensive purposes; and presenting to the public information that places another person in a false light. A person's right to privacy is the basis for protection against invasion of privacy. A person's right to privacy is not absolute secrecy, but based in the autonomy of an individual to determine a circle of intimacy. Similarly, invasion of privacy is not absolute, and is generally tied to unwarranted interference, an attempt to outrage or cause mental suffering or humiliation by a person of ordinary sensibilities.

Other Definitions

  • Black's 7th (†419 s.v. "right of privacy"): 1. The right to personal autonomy. · the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly provide for a right to privacy, but the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that this right is implied in the "zones of privacy" created by specific constitutional guarantees. – 2. The right of a person and the person's property to be free from unwarranted public scrutiny or exposure.
  • Black's 7th (†419 s.v. "invasion of privacy"): An unjustified exploitation of one's personality or intrusion into one's personal activities, actionable under tort law and sometimes constitutional law. · The four types of invasion in tort are 1) an appropriation, for one's benefit, of another's name or likeness, 2) an offensive, intentional interference with a person's seclusion or private affairs, 3), the public disclosure, of an objectionable nature, of private information about another, and 4) the use of publicity to place another in a false light in the public eye.
  • NIST 2011B (†415 p. 20): Information privacy is the assured, proper, and consistent collection, processing, communication, use and disposition of disposition of personal information (PI) and personally-identifiable information (PII) throughout its life cycle. (Source: adapted from OASIS)


  • AJS 2012 (†421 AJS 62A Privacy § 1, "Definition"): The right to privacy is not so much one of the right to total secrecy as it is the right to define one's circle of intimacy or to choose who will see beneath the quotidian mask, and information disclosed to a few people may remain private. (†534)
  • AJS 2012 (†421 AJS 62A Privacy § 5, "Constitutional rig): The Federal Constitution promises that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter, and the result is a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy. The rights included within that zone are deemed fundamental and include activities related to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, and child rearing and education. They involve the most intimate and personal choices a person can make in his or her lifetime, and include choices central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. (†535)
  • AJS 2012 (†421 AJS 62A Privacy § 6, "Defamation"): Although closely related, invasion of privacy is distinct from libel, slander, or defamation. An action for invasion of privacy differs from a libel action in that in the former truth is not a defense and it is not necessary to the cause of action to allege or prove special damages. Another significant difference between the two types of actions is that a libel may arise from publication of a defamatory statement to only one person, whereas the invasion of privacy, at least by false-light publicity, by definition requires publicity of the falsehood to a substantial number of people. An action for invasion of privacy based on false light also differs from an action for defamation in that the former must involve the private affairs of the subject, and cannot relate to any matter which is inherently public or of legitimate interest to the public. (†536)
  • AJS 2012 (†421 AJS 62A Privacy § 31, "Person of ordinar): The right of privacy is relative to the customs of the time and place, and is determined by the norm of the ordinary person. The protection afforded by the law to this right must be restricted to ordinary or reasonable sensibilities. It does not extend to hypersensitiveness. There are some shocks, inconveniences, and annoyances which members of society must absorb without right of redress, and the right of privacy is not a guaranty of hermitic seclusion. Some intrusions into one's private sphere are inevitable concomitants of life in an industrial and densely populated society, which the law does not seek to proscribe even if it were possible to do so. In order to constitute an invasion of the right of privacy, an act must be of such a nature as a reasonable person can see might and probably would cause mental distress and injury to anyone possessed of ordinary feelings and intelligence, situated in like circumstances as the complainant. (†537)
  • AJS 2012 (†421 AJS 62A Privacy § 7, "Injury to reputati): There is a distinction between causes of action for invasion of privacy and defamation with regard to the respective interests protected and compensated by each. The gist of the cause of action in privacy cases is not injury to one's public reputation or status as in defamation cases, but injury to emotions and mental suffering, although some courts have acknowledged that injury to personal feelings is also recoverable in libel actions. In "right of privacy" cases, the primary damage is the mental distress from having been exposed to public view, although injury to reputation may be an element bearing upon such damage. The published matter need not be defamatory, on its face or otherwise. In fact, it might even be laudatory and still warrant recovery. (†538)
  • Bushey et al. 2016 (†755 ): · Does the Provider’s terms include privacy, confidentiality, or security policies for sensitive, confidential, personal or other special kinds of data? · Is it clearly stated what information (including personal information ) is collected about your organization, why it is collected and how it will be used by the Provider? · Does the Provider share this information with other companies, organizations, or individuals without your consent? · Does the Provider state the legal reasons for which they would share this information with other companies, organizations, or individuals? · If the Provider shares this information with their affiliates for processing reasons, is this done in compliance with an existing privacy, confidentiality, or security policy? (†1900)
  • Gallagher 2014 (†554 ): In 1999, former Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy spoke in front of the US government and infamously said, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.” But in the wake of the Snowden leaks, US companies that sell “cloud computing” services are now losing international customers in droves. At the same time, law enforcement and intelligence agencies are trying to keep what they have left, pushing back on attempts to make the cloud systems Americans use more secure from criminals and foreign governments because those authorities might get locked out too. (†924)
  • Gartner IT Glossary (†298 s.v. "privacy management tools"): Privacy management tools help organizations conduct privacy impact assessments, check processing activities against requirements from privacy regulations, and track incidents that lead to unauthorized disclosures of personal data (investigation, remediation, reporting). They analyze and document data flows of personal information (nature of data, purpose of processing, data controller), support authoring and distribution of privacy policies (for which they provide templates) and track user awareness (users acknowledge having read the policies). (†693)
  • Heffernan 2014 (†368 ): IBM (NYSE: IBM) inventors have received a patent for a breakthrough data encryption technique that is expected to further data privacy and strengthen cloud computing security. ¶ The patented breakthrough, called “fully homomorphic encryption,” could enable deep and unrestricted analysis of encrypted information – intentionally scrambled data – without surrendering confidentiality. IBM’s solution has the potential to advance cloud computing privacy and security by enabling vendors to perform computations on client data, such as analyzing sales patterns, without exposing or revealing the original data. (†371)
  • ISACA Glossary (†743 s.v. privacy): Freedom from unauthorized intrusion or disclosure of information about an individual. (†1793)
  • Khramtsovsky 2014 (†459 ): I would also advise to mention the link between “privacy” and EU term “data protection”. In e-environment privacy protection very often is a synonym for protection of personally identifiable information. This might be of help for colleagues outside of North America. (†653)
  • Kirby 2010 (†598 ): Mr. Nelson (visiting professor-internet studies, Georgetown University)also stressed the need for the U.S. to act soon to set an example for other countries on the access to cloud data by government agencies. "We have to make clear as a government that the cloud is not going to be a privacy-free zone - that you're going to need some kind of search warrant," he said. (†1378)
  • Kirby 2010 (†598 ): Robert Atkinson, founder and president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation,...rejected the suggestion that free cloud services should come with the maximum amount of privacy protections. "If you want the gold-plated thing, buy it," he said. (†1379)
  • Kirkpatrick 2013 (†321 ): Debates in the private sector have devolved into an existential struggle between two camps: one which believes that privacy is dead and profit is king, and one which fears that any reuse of data beyond the original purpose for which it was collected is a potential threat to privacy and civil liberties. Our goal is to insert a third pole into this discussion: Big Data is a raw public good, and we must work together to find ways to harness it for massive social impact, both safely and responsibly. For this to happen, data philanthropy has to become a private sector priority. (†294)
  • Leverich, et al. 2014 (†547 p. 3): Privacy is considered to be the ability of a user to control who has access to their personal information and how it is used is consistently identified as a concern by users. . . . Some authors refer to a 'privacy paradox' – the apparent importance placed by users on limiting access to their personal information by others and the posting of personal information using social media services. Privacy influences the trust relationship between user and community as well as user and service provider. An aspect of privacy was also highlighted in the fan fiction case study, which is a group or community-based expectation of privacy on-line as a result of obscurity. (†902)
  • Moskop et al. 2005 (†506 p. 54): Defined simply in an early and influential law review article by Warren and Brandeis as "the right to be let alone," privacy is often characterized as freedom from exposure to or intrusion by others. ¶ Allen distinguishes 3 major usages of the term "privacy": physical privacy, informational privacy, and decisional privacy. Physical privacy refers to freedom from contact with others or exposure of one's body to others. In contemporary health care, physical privacy is unavoidably limited. ¶ Informational privacy refers to prevention of disclosure of personal information. ¶ Decisional privacy refers to an ability to make and act on one’s personal choices without interference from others or the state. (†786)
  • NIST 2013 (†734 p. J-1): Privacy, with respect to personally identifiable information (PII), is a core value that can be obtained only with appropriate legislation, policies, procedures, and associated controls to ensure compliance with requirements. Protecting the privacy of individuals and their PII that is collected, used, maintained, shared, and disposed of by programs and information systems, is a fundamental responsibility of federal organizations. Privacy also involves each individual’s right to decide when and whether to share personal information, how much information to share, and the particular circumstances under which that information can be shared. In today’s digital world, effective privacy for individuals depends on the safeguards employed within the information systems that are processing, storing, and transmitting PII and the environments in which those systems operate. Organizations cannot have effective privacy without a basic foundation of information security. Privacy is more than security, however, and includes, for example, the principles of transparency, notice, and choice. (†1825)
  • Parameswaran and Blough (†516 p. 1): Privacy is defined as the freedom from unauthorized intrusion. The availability of personal information through online databases such as government records, medical records, and voters’ lists poses a threat to personal privacy. Intelligent search engines and data mining techniques further exacerbate the problem of privacy by simplifying access and retrieval of personal records. (†808)
  • Reidenberg, et al. 2013 (†364 ): As public schools in the United States rapidly adopt cloud-computing services, and consequently transfer increasing quantities of student information to third-party providers, privacy issues become more salient and contentious. The protection of student privacy in the context of cloud computing is generally unknown both to the public and to policy-makers. This study thus focuses on K-12 public education and examines how school districts address privacy when they transfer student Information to cloud computing service providers (†360)
  • Taylor 2013 (†760 p. 38): There is a potential conflict between individual rights to privacy and collective rights to memory. (†1922)
  • Tsilas 2010 (†603 p.18): Users also may have legitimate questions about the privacy of data stored in the cloud vis-à-vis cloud service providers and other parties. ...the privacy and confidentiality risks of cloud computing “vary significantly with the terms of service and privacy policy established by the cloud provider.” (†1390)
  • Tsilas 2010 (†603 p.18): In the United States, information stored on a personal computer or business computer is entitled to certain protections under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), but courts are struggling to address whether information that is stored remotely is entitled to the same protections and, if not, what if any protections apply. Consumers have shared and stored data on locally residing computer hard drives and disks for years, and courts have generally extended Fourth Amendment protections to these files. The challenging question is what happens to the status of these documents when they are migrated to a platform hosted and operated by a third party. . (†1391)
  • Warren and Brandeis 1890 (†457 p. 196): The intensity and complexity of life, attendant on advancing civilization, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world, and man, under the refining influence of culture, has become more sensitive to publicity, so that solitude and privacy have become more essential to the individual; but modern enterprise and invention have, through invasions upon his privacy, subjected him to mental pain and distress, far greater than could be inflicted by mere bodily injury. (†642)
  • Warren and Brandeis 1890 (†457 p. 205): These considerations lead to the conclusion that the protection afforded to thoughts, sentiments, and emotions, expressed through the medium of writing or of the arts, so far as it consists in preventing publication, is merely an instance of the enforcement of the more general right of the individual to be let alone. It is like the right not to be assaulted or beaten, the right not to be imprisoned, the right not to be maliciously prosecuted, the right not to be defamed. (†644)
  • Warren and Brandeis 1890 (†457 p. 213): If the invasion of privacy constitutes a legal injuria, the elements for demanding redress exist, since already the value of mental suffering, caused by an act wrongful in itself, is recognized as a basis for compensation. (†646)
  • Warren and Brandeis 1890 (†457 p. 198-200): The common law secures to each individual the right of determining, ordinarily, to what extent his thoughts, sentiments, and emotions shall be communicated to others. The existence of this right does not depend upon the particular method of expression adopted. It is immaterial whether it be byword or by signs, in painting, by sculpture, or in music Neither does the existence of the right depend upon the nature or value of the thought or emotion, nor upon the excellence of the means of expression. The same protection is accorded to a casual letter or an entry in a diary and to the most valuable poem or essay, to a botch or daub and to a masterpiece. In every such case the individual is entitled to decide whether that which is his shall be given to the public. No other has the right to publish his productions in any form, without his consent. . . . The right is lost only when the author himself communicates his production to the public, — in other words, publishes it. (†643)
  • Warren and Brandeis 1890 (†457 p. 214-218): [Note: Each of these general principles is discussed in depth.] 1. The right to privacy does not prohibit any publication of matter which is of public or general interest. 2. The right to privacy does not prohibit the communication of any matter, though in its nature private, when the publication is made under circumstances which would render it a privileged communication according to the law of slander and libel. 3. The law would probably not grant any redress for the invasion of privacy by oral publication in the absence of special damage. 4. The right to privacy ceases upon the publication of the facts by the individual, or with his consent. 5. The truth of the matter published does not afford a defence. 6. The absence of " malice " in the publisher does not afford a defence.1. The right to privacy does not prohibit any publication of matter which is of public or general interest. 2. The right to privacy does not prohibit the communication of any matter, though in its nature private, when the publication is made under circumstances which would render it a privileged communication according to the law of slander and libel. 3. The law would probably not grant any redress for the invasion of privacy by oral publication in the absence of special damage. 4. The right to privacy ceases upon the publication of the facts by the individual, or with his consent. 5. The truth of the matter published does not afford a defence. 6. The absence of " malice " in the publisher does not afford a defence. (†647)
  • Wikipedia (†387 s.v. privacy): The boundaries and content of what is considered private differ among cultures and individuals, but share common themes. When something is private to a person, it usually means that something is inherently special or sensitive to them. The domain of privacy partially overlaps security, which can include the concepts of appropriate use, as well as protection of information. (†1050)