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Right to Privacy

Are You the Perpetrator of Your Own Loss of Privacy?

Roxanne Bauer's picture

Exploring ideas, innovations and fresh approaches to our world is at the heart of the public sphere. People, Spaces, Deliberation brings you significant voices from academia and the practice of development through a series of interviews.

Do conventional notions of privacy still exist? Are we trading privacy for convenience?  If privacy is a thing of the past, is this a bad thing?

According to Professor Silvio Waisbord, an expert on global media, development, and social change, the answer is mixed.  People trade the downsides of losing privacy in exchange for convenience, simplification, and other social factors. 

The interesting question for him is, "What do people typically do when they are confronted with the fact that you are one of the main perpetrators of your loss of privacy. What do you do about that? Are you willing to make changes about that?"

Professor Silvio Waisbord on Privacy and Convenience

Privacy is so 20th Century

Sina Odugbemi's picture
Modern life is life on the grid: credit cards, smart phones, internet connections, social media presence and so on. And here is the truth: Life on the grid is life in a fishbowl erected on stilts in a bazaar. As a result, something that we once thought was important to us as citizens is not simply lost, it is irretrievably lost: it is the idea of privacy.

The concept of privacy itself is notoriously difficult to define. In reading around the subject, I found this description of it by Larry Peterman in a 1993 essay in The Review of Politics titled ‘Privacy’s Background’:

We look upon the private as that part of our lives insulated against the communal or public broadly constructed, protected from unwarranted intrusion by others, including political authorities, and the place where, in the last resort, we can clothe ourselves in anonymity.


I think that is exactly right. It is what Grant Mindle, in an earlier essay, calls ‘concealment and seclusion’ that protected place where we can have parts of our lives that will not leak into the public arena.