‘How privacy’s past may shape its future’

“Continued expansion of human activities into digital realms gives rise to concerns about digital privacy and its invasions, often expressed in terms of data rights and internet surveillance. It may thus be tempting to construe privacy as a modern phenomenon – something our ancestors lacked and technological innovation and urban growth made possible. Research from history, anthropology, and ethnography suggests otherwise. The evidence for peoples seeking to manage the boundaries of private and public spans time and space, social class, and degree of technological sophistication. Privacy – not merely hiding of data, but the selective opening and closing of the self to others – appears to be both culturally specific and culturally universal …”

Alessandro Acquisti, Laura Brandimarte and Jeff Hancock, How privacy’s past may shape its future, Science volume 375 issue 6578 pp 270-272, 10.1126/science.abj0826 (20 January).

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