Why Privacy Should Be a Fundamental Right

by mr november

Some thoughts on why Privacy should be a fundamental right.

  1. It is the basis of freedom. Freedom of thought, of expression and of speech.
  2. To limit the power of any authority, government or private, on our individual physical and personal space, including the data we generate.
  3. To protect a valuable building block of society – respecting people means respecting their personal space or privacy.
  4. Privacy as a right will legitimately allow someone to control what they would like to share about themselves and with whom.
  5. It also helps build trust among members of society – for instance your doctor, lawyer, teacher or even friends have access to your private confidential information, which must not be breached.
  6. It safeguards a person’s political choices, thoughts and preferences – just like the confidentiality we are provided in the voting booth during elections.

Should your employer get to know, without your express consent, if you are looking work opportunities elsewhere? Should your neighbor be told, without your knowledge, all your embarrassing and horrible stories from high school? Should you not get to decide who ought to know about a very personal trauma you had in your past? Or should your psychologist go around telling everyone? Do you tell every little thing about your adult life to your parents or extended family? Should your bank sell your purchasing history to advertisers and marketing agencies? Must your government know that you donate to pro-environment organizations working to stop private corporations from polluting rivers?

Legal right or not, the wealthier you are, it becomes easier to have more privacy. Which then makes it easier to hide corruption and crime. The opposite is also true. The poorer you are, you have literally no access to any sort of privacy. Which makes it easy for others to harass and abuse you. And so, when we talk about privacy, we should acknowledge these equations of power.