What is privacy really?

How can you discuss privacy, when you don’t even agree on the term? Apparently, its not an obstacle for neither journalists or scholars in Denmark.

Privacy is a hot topic due to the increasing use of social networking sites such as Facebook and thereby the changes in private and public life.

I find it interesting, that the discussion about privacy goes on in the public domain as well among scholars, without having a precise definition of privacy. In fact, there are no precise definition of privacy in Danish nor in English.

Let me give you a short overview:
In the US the first definition of privacy appeared in 1890 by Waren & Brandeis. Privacy was here defined as: “the right to be left alone” (Warren & Brandeis 1890).  Half a century later privacy was defined again this time as the “the control of personal information” (Westin 1967).

In the Danish language there are no direct equivalent term to privacy and privacy is not yet registered by the Danish National Language Council.  Though, some aspects related to privacy has existed in Denmark for centuries.

1795: the term personal life (privatliv) was registered by the Danish National Language Council
1849: The right to a private life (privatliv) is written into the Danish Constitution Act of 1849 along with the freedom to speech (ytringsfrihed).
1972: the Danish National Language Council registered private sphere (privatsfære) as the antithesis to public sphere (offentligsfære).
2009: Privacy is used 54 times in articles within the last year. But no one defined privacy.

So what are we left with. According to the above mentioned, no one has defined privacy, but according to Danish law we do have a legal right to have a private life and to speak up.

Please help me define privacy by answering these 2 questions on Twitter.

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