Privacy and discrete "social spheres"

Ethics and Behavior 7 (3):221 – 228 (1997)
To be human is to be engaged in relationships of friendship, trust, and love. These relationships cannot flourish unless information essential to each relationship is kept within the confines of that relationship--unless the individuals involved have knowledge of, and control over, the information about themselves that is available within their particular relationships. This knowledge of and control over information about oneself is the core of "privacy"; privacy's role in maintaining relationships explains its importance to us. Technological advances in computing have made it possible to glean bits of information about an individual from a variety of relationships--personal, professional, medical, financial--and to combine them into a "virtual mosaic" of that individual. In plucking information about an individual from various discrete relationships, and making it available in yet other relationships, this activity violates that individual's right to privacy.
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