European Data Protection: Coming of Age

pp 3-32


Seven Types of Privacy

  • Rachel L. FinnAffiliated withCrown House, Trilateral Research & Consulting Email author 
  • , David WrightAffiliated withCrown House, Trilateral Research & Consulting
  • , Michael FriedewaldAffiliated withFraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI

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As technologies to develop, conceptualisations of privacy have developed alongside them, from a “right to be let alone” to attempts to capture the complexity of privacy issues within frameworks that highlight the legal, social-psychological, economic or political concerns that technologies present. However, this reactive highlighting of concerns or intrusions does not provide an adequate framework though which to understand the ways in which privacy should be proactively protected. Rights to privacy, such as those enshrined in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, require a forward-looking privacy framework that positively outlines the parameters of privacy in order to prevent intrusions, infringements and problems. This paper makes a contribution to a forward-looking privacy framework by examining the privacy impacts of six new and emerging technologies. It analyses the privacy issues that each of these technologies present and argues that there are seven different types of privacy. We also use this case study information to suggest that an imprecise conceptualisation of privacy may be necessary to maintain a fluidity that enables new dimensions of privacy to be identified, understood and addressed in order to effectively respond to rapid technological evolution.