Privacy- what does it mean to you?

The right to privacy is under threat

The UN report The right to privacy in the digital age (2022) states that the right to privacy is currently under threat. Such threats include cyberstalking, hacking and digital profiling that depend on collecting and sharing data about our interests, behaviour and habits without consent. The Norwegian Consumer Council’s report (2020) tested and analysed ten apps, amongst them were Happn and Tinder, discovering that most of the data collected, shared and used were illegal under the General Data Protection Regulation. Based on these findings, the report argues that consumers are exploited by the online advertising industry to the extent of it being “out of control”.

Privacy as a contested concept

During the workshop “Nothing to hide” organised by RELINK, Frank Pallas from the Technische Universität Berlin spoke about the concept of privacy and why it is contested. Privacy is indeed a difficult concept to grasp, yet we all have an opinion about what it means to us and why it is important. Inspired by Frank Pallas’s presentation, five different people were asked the same question.

What does privacy mean to you?  

Frank Pallas

“Privacy is the ability to decide for myself. My understanding of privacy is similar to the European regulatory framework which is essentially about informational self-determination. It is about being able to control what sort of information is known about me and used, and being able to control my own image.”

Cristina Paupini

“Privacy is about knowledge and choice. I need to know what the options are and I need to be able to choose what is done with my data.”

Eir Vatn Strøm

“Privacy is about having control and having the choice to decide for myself what sort of information is online about me.”

Elias Grünewald

“Describing privacy, I find the concept of contextual integrity convincing: sharing something personal with a partner or with your closest friends establishes trust and is important for your social life. These people will treat you with respect, won’t tell everything they know about you to anybody, and neither will try to take economic advantage of you. The same should be true for online communication services: the principle of ‘privacy by default’ ensures that sensitive information should only reach the expected audience, and it is only processed for the intended purpose.”

Emil Åse

“I am worried about my privacy online and how my data is collected and shared. Privacy to me is having the control to decide for myself what is available about me online.” 

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