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Privacy and the Internet of Things by Gilad Rosner

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What Do We Mean by Privacy?

Much like the problem of saying “the Internet of Things” and then assuming that everyone knows what you are talking about, the term “privacy” means very different things to people. This is as true among experts, practitioners, and scholars as it is among general society. “Privacy is a concept in disarray,” observes Dan Solove, one of America’s leading privacy law scholars; it is “too complicated a concept to be boiled down to a single essence.”10 Privacy is an economic, political, legal, social, and cultural phenomenon, and is particular to countries, regions, societies, cultures, and legal traditions. This report briefly surveys American and European privacy ideas and mechanisms.

The Concept of Privacy in America and Europe

In 1890, two American legal theorists, Warren and Brandeis, conceived of the “right to be let alone” as a critical civil principle,11 a right to be protected. This begins the privacy legal discussion in the United States and is often referenced in European discussions of privacy, as well. Later, in 1967, privacy scholar Alan Westin identified “four basic states of privacy”:

Solitude
Physical separation from others
Intimacy
A “close, relaxed, and frank relationship between two or more individuals” that can arise from seclusion
Anonymity
Freedom from identification and surveillance in public places
Reserve
“The creation of a psychological barrier against unwanted intrusion”12

Westin wrote that privacy is “the claim of individuals, ...

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