Today, we’re talking about your private life. Specifically…
To what extent should one’s personal life become a public issue?
Show notes & links:
History of Private Life (Harvard University Press)
The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age from the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.
Full episode text
It can be really easy to forget that the very concept of a universal right to a private life is relatively new. In fact, in the five volume “History of the Private Life” from Harvard University Press, it’s pointed out that for much of human history, a true “private life” was limited only to those who could literally afford it. In fact, they argue that the right to privacy is the history of democratization.
However, in order to have a democratic society that represents its constituents well, a society must have data – some of which is what we call “private”, about constituents. Health data, financial data, or even demographic data all may feel private on the individual level, but on the larger, societal level, that data can be extraordinarily useful and even necessary.
So when privacy is a right laid out by the United Nations, yet so-called private data makes society better when shared, how should those elements be balanced?