At the broadest level, privacy is the ability to ensure that the decision to reveal or share:
- Something (an idea, an activity, information, documents, and anything else capable of being revealed)
- Of yours (that includes you, that is about you, that belongs to you, that is in your possession, or otherwise connected or related to you)
- Remains under your control
The right to privacy can be thought of as the freedom not to express yourself, not to be heard, or the right to go without notice or detection. Just as there are times when you have the right to express yourself no matter who you offend, you also have a right, in specific and often narrow contexts, not to be heard, not to be seen, not to be recorded.
This right cannot be taken away because someone already shared or revealed that private thing. Privacy is not about what people know about an individual, it is about safeguarding individual integrity by protecting an individual’s right to be the ultimate decision-maker for themselves and for the things or the attributes that make them who they are.
The right to privacy is not new and reference to the concept is included in the U.S. Constitution, in its Fourth Amendment.
Still, the importance of privacy has taken on a completely new meaning in the digital era for at least three reasons:
First, digital technology has made it virtually impossible for people not to share private information online. There are many good reasons why private information ends up being stored online. The most obvious is that digital technology is incredibly convenient and efficient. Many of the most popular technologies today store and track information about people, in part, to make life easier for them. For example, Gmail stores e-mails so that users can easily access them whenever they wish. Companies also store information to make their products more appealing. Gmail might, for example, store and analyze information about user e-mail habits to improve how Gmail functions for all users. While, in ages past, people rarely stored private materials or information in public spaces, today, it is almost impossible not to share private information.
Second, digital technology has made the scope for collection of personal data virtually limitless. An Apple Watch, for example, can collect information about every aspect of its users from their location, the content of their e-mails, and their conversations, to their health indicators, sleep patterns, and tastes and preferences.
Third, often people sign away the very privacy rights that protect their personal information for the convenience or the necessity of using technology products. Many of the most popular (and often most essential) technologies can only be accessed and used by agreeing to broad and all-encompassing terms of service that allow companies to collect, use, and share user information.
These three layers can make defining your right to privacy in the digital age quite challenging.
Muciri is working on cutting-edge litigation focused on these and other questions and looks forward to the opportunity to serve clients who are seeking to protect their right to privacy in the digital space.
If you believe that your right to privacy has been violated or compromised, schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation today.
Privacy and digital identity are closely related. Your identity is a combination and the totality of all the attributes that make you who you are–and distinguish you from everyone else. You are made up of, for example, your voice, your face, your mannerisms, and of course, your social security number, your bio-metric information, your personal data. As people share more of who they are online, the risk of identity theft is increasing.
In fact, the meaning of identity theft itself is evolving before out eyes: Most people are familiar with common forms of identity theft–for example, when someone impersonates you to use your credit card. However, technology is provoking increasingly complex forms of identity theft, including impersonation online through a variety of technologies, including, for example, deep fakes.