The definitions of privacy vary significantly in different fields, ranging from a right in law, to a boundary regulation, limited access or isolation in philosophy and psychology, to control in social sciences and information systems. Numerous works in diverse fields have helped in improving one’s understanding of privacy at the individual, organizational, and societal levels; However, despite the attempts, it is still not clear if the different types of privacy correlates or should be treated separately. In principle every individual should have the same claim to privacy.
Two main problems have hindered the establishment of a codified framework for the study of privacy. First, most of the attempts to define privacy have been inadequate; they focus either too specifically or too wide on a particular topic. The result is a narrow conception of privacy that is not generalizable or a definition so vague as to be methodologically useless. Second, the work on privacy tends to be value-driven.
In this paper , I’m trying to build a theoretical framework on how to approach the term ‘privacy’ which would hopefully help in assessing the legal issues faced with respect to privacy that is, it is a framework for future legal analysis.1
How does one approach privacy that is, in what way would one address the legal regime on privacy. We could follow an approach towards the core values under which privacy is a part of the core values. Another approach would be to analyze the invasion of privacy2. For a better understanding, it would be easier to follow a general approach and then later move on to the specifics.
In the simplest sense, privacy can be defined as the answer that one would get when one interconnects the autonomy of humans to live a life of their choosing (which might be referred to crudely as liberty claims); and the equal entitlement of humans to respect (roughly characterized as equality claims).3 Privacy is considered as a mix of these two core values because it offers a level of individual solitude and equality of respect that an individual would get even if he makes a choice that others frown upon.
A right to privacy is described as those aspects of one’s life that one, as an individual in a social world, would have a reasonable expectation of exerting control over in terms of dissemination or disclosure of information to whomever that one wishes to without the interference of any person.
‘In other words, a person will be in a state of privacy if he or she is only seen, heard, touched or found out about if, and to the extent that, he or she wantsto be seen, heard, touched or found out about.’4
Hence the whole point of right to privacy is the ability of being in control at all aspects of one’s life which is not possible in the real world due to various factors, to avoid a total invasion of privacy, it is therefore, assumed that right to privacy is the reasonable expectation that one has over control over his or her personal privacy to a certain degree.
However, just because society recognizes the right to privacy as important core values, it does not mean that it will be automatically recognized as an enforceable legal right at any and every circumstances. One would, therefore like to address this gap in the legal system.
1 A Conceptual Approach to Privacy, Miscellaneous Paper 19, NZLC MP19,6
2 Miscellaneous Paper, supra, 6
3 Miscellaneous Paper, supra, 7
4 N A Moreham ‘Privacy in the Common Law: A Doctrinal and Theoretical Analysis’ (2005)121 LQR 628, 636.