RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips are an electronic ‘‘label’’ with specific code numbers allowing them to be identified at any time. If the chip is brought near a reading device, the electromagnetic impulses emitted provide it with enough energy to radio back its unique code number. RFID chips do not require a built-in source of power. These ‘‘smart labels’’ can be attached, for example, to a pair of trousers, and the radio-transmitted identifiability means that whenever you are wearing these, you can be located and recognized. It becomes permanently possible to track down and identify everything one buys. 

In the future, RFID chips are to take on a further function. It only takes a small operation to implant them under the human skin, this way making it practicable to read and retrieve the data of medical patients, for example, at any time. These chips are just one example of the enormous and radical technological developments of recent years. The developments have led to completely new technologies for obtaining information about people, observing them, listening to their conversations, and monitoring their activities: technologies that invade people’s privacy in new ways and pose new threats to this privacy. 

There are also social changes of an entirely different sort that have shifted the boundary separating the private and the public realms and led to changes in their social significance. These include the fact that women can no longer be assigned to the realm of domestic and family labor, but are increasingly playing—and wanting to play—an equal role in gainful employment and the public sphere. They include the fact that intimacy and sexuality are no longer banished to the private domain, but are openly portrayed and displayed in magazines and periodicals, on television, and in the whole range of media. They also include the emer- gence of a new genre of television programs in which the ‘‘private life’’ of the contestants can be observed on an almost one-to-one basis, as in reality TV shows like Big Brother.

Recent interest in reconceptualizing privacy, therefore, reflects three histor- ical processes: developments in information technologies, capable of threat- ening the protection of personal privacy in completely new ways; radical changes in the relation between the sexes and a concomitant reconfiguration of the private sphere; and the intrusion of intimacy into the public realm through previously private themes that have turned public, and shifts in notions of individuality and authenticity. These examples also suggest that there is not one history of privacy and that what counts as ‘‘private’’ at any particular time varies. They bring to light the thoroughly conventional nature of the separation between public and private life.

In what follows, I look briefly at some of the older theories of privacy and more specifically at why these are becoming obsolete. This makes it easier to see what is new about new theories. In a second step, I look more closely at new conceptions of the term. This overview is then followed by a systematic account of the problem as a whole in which I differentiate three dimensions of privacy. Finally, I provide a brief sketch of the normative problems associated with privacy.



What is new about new ways of thinking about privacy? What, by contrast, were the old ways of thinking about privacy? The opposition can be clarified by conceiving of the accepted division between the private and the public realm as either ‘‘naturally given’’ or ‘‘drawn by convention’’. In the traditional self-description of civil societies, the private and the public spheres are separated in quasi-natural terms: to the realm of privacy belongs feelings, hearth, and home, emotional care for the male members of society, as well as the raising of the children, while reason, ‘‘brains,’’ and professional life, by contrast, characterize the (male) public realm. 

As this indicates, the ‘‘natural’’ coding of the separation between private and public follows the borderline separating the sexes. It is because of this natural coding that the private domain has a twofold significance in the evaluative semantics of civil societies. On the one hand, the domestic sphere, including the family, is valued and prized as the realm sheltered from the demands of a hostile world, a realm where love and action prevail rather than competition and the pursuit of profit, and which provides a haven both from the hard laws of the economy and from the implacable rules of politics. Yet alongside this interpretation, there exists another version, a negative one, which unambiguously associates the private sphere with ‘‘women’’ and the public sphere with ‘‘men.’’ This version represents the private as inferior to the public, just as nature is inferior to culture.

This is the traditional self-description of civil societies. This separation of public from private, and gender-coded disparagement of the private, can be found in one form or another throughout Western political philosophy. In this sense, it is not restricted to liberal theory but finds its classic articulation in Aristotle, according to whom the private domain is one of necessity, restriction, confinement, and subjection to the (unpleasant) laws of nature and reproduction. For a modern Aristotelian such as Hannah Arendt, there is a clear social ontology that makes it seem natural, as it were, for certain things, persons, and activities to be regarded as private and others as public: the private domain is the domain of the household, ‘‘the sphere where the necessities of life, of individual survival as well as of continuity of the species, [are] taken care of and guaranteed’’. Even if Arendt no longer sees this differentiation as necessarily coinciding with a gender-specific division of labor, her conception can in this respect be described as an ‘‘old’’ theory of privacy.

It is above all classical liberal theory, however, that postulates a necessary link between a natural concept of privacy and a gender-specific division of labor, and designates the household as the sphere appropriate to women. Even though liberal theory since (Hobbes and) Locke has advocated equal civil rights and liberties for all citizens, it has simultaneously clung to a natural conception of privacy that patently contradicts the notion of equal rights. This, of course, has little to do with nature and a great deal to do with power and culture: seen in purely normative terms, nature provides us with no argument why certain activities or persons should be considered ‘‘private’’ and others ‘‘public’’ (Ortner 1998). On the contrary, the division is always conventional in character, this being one of the reasons why new approaches to privacy can call for a redescription of the private and reformulation of equal rights to privacy and freedom that is no longer inconsistent with the principles of liberal democracy based on equal rights (Cohen 1992, 2002; Allen 1988, 1998).

The natural and gender-specific coding of privacy singles out just one aspect, one sector, from the whole spectrum of social meanings given to privacy. The private is distinguished from the public in static terms, as though we were dealing with clearly defined domains (the private house versus the public street) rather than dimensions or dynamic boundaries drawn to determine what, for example, should be regarded as private in public spaces (matters such as how I dress, or where I send my children to school). The coding of privacy as something natural, female, or static, as the ‘‘household,’’ or a realm clearly and unambiguously defined in opposition to what is public, is, therefore, the old, traditional coding. As such, it is no longer convincing in either normative or empirical terms.


Along with this natural conception of privacy, the history of liberal theory reveals another, fundamentally different, connotation of the term. Since Hobbes, Locke, and most explicitly Mill (1910) and Rorty (1989), ‘‘privacy’’ has also meant something akin to ‘‘freedom from interference by the state or society in general’’ (Roessler 2005, 43V). Within this tradition, privacy is closely and genuinely bound up with the concept of freedom, and it is on this meaning of privacy that most of today’s normative conceptions are based.

It is worth noting at this point that theories of privacy—of the changes it has undergone, the threat it faces, the function it fulfills—are to be found in widely differing and often wholly separate discourses, each approaching the problem from a different angle, referring to different histories of privacy, and focusing on different aspects of the term. For example, sociological theories of the public sphere, as well as sociological studies of the transformation of the family, employ a concept of privacy that cannot be reduced to the natural sphere of the household, but that nonetheless remains general and—standing in simple opposition to the concept of the public sphere—is not further specified (Habermas 1992; Sennett 2002; Fraser 1992). The same goes for theories of civilization and modernization that operate with a concept of privacy, yet fail to specify this in any greater detail. For the most part, therefore, privacy simply remains a matter of ‘‘the private family’’ after all.

By contrast, the discourses of legal studies, philosophy, and feminism have focused more closely on the concept, definition, and meaning of privacy itself. The diverse branches of legal studies, reflecting the very broad spectrum of case law, have witnessed an extremely heterogeneous debate on the distinct interpretations of a right to privacy, a debate that has been triggered in particular by famous legal cases. In philosophy, specific discussions of the concept and definition of privacy date mainly from the 1960s. This has connected with and responded to social and legal developments, and has generated theories about the value of privacy and the connection between intimate relationships, and what, if anything, it means to have a right to privacy.

Feminist theories have exerted a particularly important influence on these discourses, in sociology, philosophy, and legal studies alike. From the outset, feminist approaches have leveled their criticism at the natural concept of privacy and the accompanying gender-specific division of labor, thus also at those varieties of the liberal theory that were grounded on a male social contract that excludes women (Pateman 1989). Strictly speaking, one cannot here speak of feminist theory in the singular form: not only are a great variety of definitions of privacy used in the relevant literature (Olsen 1991; Okin 1991; MacKinnon 1991; Morris 2000; Cohen 2002), but accompanying these are critiques of the distinction between private and public that vary greatly in their radicalism. In general terms, it can nevertheless be said that feminist theories challenge the traditional, repressive, concept of privacy, and attempt to describe and interpret privacy in new ways.

By way of a provisional generalization, we have already seen that more recent theories of privacy conceptualize the private as relating to, constituted by, or interested in individual, personal freedom, or autonomy. This is the case in jurisprudence, philosophical theories, and feminist accounts alike. The focus on freedom and autonomy is present in the most diverse theories of privacy, ranging from those addressing questions of sexual self-determination, to those that concentrate on informational privacy, and those that attach central importance to the privacy of the home.1 This new association of freedom and privacy has not, however, gone without criticism. Here I present three kinds of criticism, before looking in more detail at the individual conceptions of privacy that are oriented towards freedom. These three kinds of criticism should be understood as skeptical responses to the new conceptions of privacy, but I argue that they are skeptical responses founded upon misunderstanding.

3.1 The Communitarian Critique

Theorists from the communitarian tradition find it suspicious that theories of privacy represent individual freedom as the raisond’etre for privacy. In general, they call into question the connection between (decisional) privacy and autonomy. They argue that privacy should not be conceived as a realm or dimension of individual freedom, that is, as functionally related to the individual self, but rather as a realm or dimension of life concerned with specific practices also relevant to the community at large. Privacy must accordingly be understood not as a realm to which the individual has a claim qua an autonomous being, but as one conceded to the individual as a member of the community (Sandel 1982; Etzioni 1999, 2004; Elshtain 1995).

The idea underlying this is that liberal theories of privacy conceive the self as disembedded and egocentric in nature. This is said to be inconsistent in epistemological terms, and normatively undesirable from a political perspec- tive, for communities and communal practices always already have priority over the formation of the individual identity. Accordingly, say communitarians, privacy should not be primarily understood as an individual right to (physical or sexual) self-determination, but as protection given to practices that depend upon being sheltered from the view of others (Etzioni 1999, 183; 2004, 30).

This communitarian critique is not convincing, however, as a number of authors have pointed out (Cohen 2002, 42; Roessler 2004, 98). It is a misconception to hold that a theory of privacy based upon the idea of individual freedom and autonomy cannot at the same time also conceive of the self as relational in nature and as constituted and contextualized in a variety of respects (Mackenzie and Stoljar 2000). It is, moreover, a politically troubling misconception. Feminist theories of privacy, in particular, insist that individual rights come before communal duties because otherwise, it is impossible to guarantee equal freedom to take decisions pertaining to one’s life and one’s body. Communal practices and traditions may prove repressive and discriminatory, making an individual right to privacy indispensable.

3.2 The Radical Egalitarian Feminist Critique

Radical egalitarian feminist approaches are on principle skeptical of any conceptualization of privacy that represents privacy itself as emancipatory. The best-known of these is that developed by MacKinnon. For MacKinnon, the appeal to juridical or moral rights to privacy is but a further manifestation of the attempt to push women back into an ideologically constituted realm of privacy defined as the non-political or pre-political, and only ever concedes their rights insofar as they are seen as different or deviant. Such a concept of privacy, according to MacKinnon, fails to call the sexual hierarchy into question. Instead, it simply preserves the social power structures that find expression in the correlation of women with the private and men with the public realm.

In response to this, it can be objected that MacKinnon fails to make a sufficiently clear distinction between a natural, pre-political, concept of privacy (rejected equally by the radical egalitarian feminists and those who see privacy as based in some way on the concept of freedom) and a legal- conventional concept. With the help of the latter, both societies in general and traditional conceptual divisions between the private and the public can be criticized and revised. To renounce a concept of privacy that can prove crucial to women in general and to the self-determination of the female sexual body, in particular, seems an unnecessary step if one can hold to a concept of privacy that is not in the gender-specific, natural tradition, but is oriented towards the notion of freedom.

3.3 The Theory of Power Critique

The third type of criticism of freedom-oriented theories of privacy com- prises approaches from the perspective of the theory of power (for example, Brown 1995; Cornell 1995). These criticize the liberal concepts of freedom and autonomy on a more fundamental level. They are skeptical of those who conceptualize privacy in relation to autonomy because and insofar as this follows on from, and is consonant with, other (liberal) dichotomies; and because dichotomies as such tend to be exclusionary and to this extent repressive in nature. Furthermore, they argue, that such conceptions fail to take into account—and sufficiently criticize—the power structures inherent in society because they focus too much on a male, ‘‘rational,’’ understanding of autonomy. 

These arguments are far from homogeneous, ranging from those that appear to reject any conceptualization of privacy (Brown 1995; and on different grounds, Geuss 2002) to others that propose alternative ways of determining privacy. One example of the latter is Morris (2000, 330), who suggests that privacy should be conceived as ‘‘intractable’’ and a ‘‘reprieve from scrutiny and a public judgment.’’ This third approach is particularly problematic when it seems to oppose the very possibility of a normative conceptualization of privacy. In Morris’s case, by contrast, it remains unclear why her position is so incompatible with freedom-oriented approaches: the main difference seems to be that these state precisely why privacy is valued and why it should be understood as a right.

In my view, none of these three types of critique can genuinely invalidate the normative nexus between freedom and privacy. Accordingly, I regard conceptions of privacy based upon a notion of individual freedom as providing the most interesting and forward-looking possibilities for the term: I argue that theories of privacy are always at the same time theories about the protection of individual liberty. In this context, it is possible to distinguish various dimensions of privacy, each of which realizes and facilitates distinct aspects of individual freedom and is thus also characterized by a distinct potential for conflict with other rights or values.


Three such dimensions of privacy should be distinguished. These dimensions—not realms—of privacy services, or from a normative viewpoint should serve, protect, facilitate, and effectuate individual liberties in a variety of respects. We saw above that freedom-oriented theories of privacy are to be found within the whole range of theories of privacy, from those that deal with the privacy of (intimate) actions to those concerned with informational privacy or the privacy of the household. It makes sense, therefore, to discuss these different aspects of freedom and privacy separately.

4.1 Decisional Privacy

It is only in recent years that decisional privacy, or the privacy of actions, has become a specialist term in the literature. A decisive factor here was the ruling of the US Supreme Court in the Roe v. Wade case, where for the first time in US legal history women were granted a right to physical, and sexual self-determination and to terminate a pregnancy, this being grounded upon an appeal to a right to privacy. As the explanation formulated by Justice Blackmun famously put it, ‘‘this right to privacy is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy’’.

This verdict and the discussions that preceded and followed it exerted enormous influence on the subsequent conceptualization of privacy, and not only in the United States. Largely as a result, feminist theorists have treated sexual freedom of action, the privacy of intimate and sexual acts, and the woman’s right to sexual self-determination as central elements in the theory of privacy. Decisive significance is given to the privacy of the body. This includes the woman’s newly-won right to conceive of her body as private to the extent that she can decide for herself whether or not to bear a child, and thus enjoys rights of reproductive freedom. The discussion in Europe took a slightly different tack, primarily because the right to terminate a pregnancy is not grounded, in most European countries, in the right to privacy but in the woman’s right to self-determination; also because in Europe, it has traditionally been the right to informational privacy that has been to the fore.

The idea of physical privacy, in the sense of the privacy of actions that concern the intimate sphere of women and men, lies at the heart of decisional privacy. We should mention here two further aspects of this form of privacy, both of which also concern the link between sexuality, the body, and identity, and are decisive for the societal coding and meaning of decisional privacy. These relate to the issues of sexual harassment and sexual orientation. Protection from sexual harassment and respect for diverse sexual orientations both form aspects of decisional privacy, because and to the extent that it is the privacy of the body that is here vulnerable to infringement.

Privacy with respect to intimate, sexual decisions is considered vital be- cause these decisions are said to form the core of general decisions that may have far-reaching consequences in terms of who one wants to be and how one wants to live: the core, in other words, of one’s freedom to form one’s own authentic identity. When decisional privacy is placed within such a context and understood as serving to secure the possibility of a self-determined, authentic life, of individual projects, individual ways of life, and individual practical identity, it becomes clear that it is called upon to secure autonomy not only in the most intimate sphere but in private acts and behavior in public contexts, too. It emerges, that is, that the protection of decisional privacy is necessary so that freedom in social space and with respect to other individuals in society can be enjoyed in such a way that modes of action, ways of life, and projects can be pursued without undesired interference. Restraint, inattention, reserve, and indifference—as forms of respect for this decisional privacy—are expected from others when it comes to the private aspects of the life a person leads in public.

One must here distinguish very different aspects of decisional privacy according to their social context, but the argument underlying the claim to protection of such privacy remains structurally the same. If one under- stands a person’s self-determination and autonomy to consist in her right to be the (part-)author of her own biography, this must mean, among other things, that the person can demand that her decisions and actions should be respected (in the sense that they are ‘‘none of your business’’) by both social convention and state law. The limits to such privacy are regulated by convention and of course subject to constant renegotiation, yet this sort of respect for a person’s ‘‘privacy’’—in public contexts as well—is especially relevant for women. (For concrete examples, see Nagel 1998a , 1998b; Allen 1988; Cohen 2002; Fraser 1996; Gatens 2004). The spectrum of decisional privacy thus extends from reproductive rights to freedom of conduct in public space.

4.2 Informational Privacy

Discussion about informational privacy also goes back to the interpretation of the US Constitution, in this case beginning with an essay written by Justices Warren and Brandeis after what they felt was an invasion of privacy by intrusive paparazzi at the wedding of Warren’s daughter (in 1890). It was here, for the first time, that the right to be left alone was described as a constitutional right to privacy in the sense that information about a person is worthy of protection even when it involves something that occurs in public. This is grounded in an appeal to the protection of individual freedom and is thus known as the right to be left alone (Warren and Brandeis 1984).

Since Warren’s daughter got married there have, of course, been enormous technological advances that radically transform not only the possibilities for surveillance but also our concepts of privacy, freedom, and autonomy, and that threaten to continue to do so (Westin 1967; Gandy 1993; Lyon and Zureik 1996; Agre and Rotenberg 1998). These opportunities for monitoring people apply equally to private households, public spaces, and surfing the Internet. In discussions of the new ‘‘surveillance state,’’ the literature constantly invokes both Bentham’s panopticon and Foucault’s interpretations of it (Whitaker 1999; Foucault 1977).

The idea of informational privacy, however, also incorporates a further element. At issue here is not only not wanting to have one’s phone tapped or be kept under surveillance, but the more general point that people like to keep the knowledge that others have of them under control and within limits, they can expect. This brings to light the deep-seated connection between informational privacy and autonomy: people want to have control of their own self-presentation; they use the information others have about them to regulate their relationships and thus the roles they play in their various social spaces. If everyone knew everything about everyone else, differentiated relations and self-presentations would no longer be possible, nor would autonomy and the freedom to determine one’s own life. As the German Federal Constitutional Court argued as early as 1983: ‘‘A person who cannot tell with sufficient certainty what information concerning him in certain areas is known to his social environment, or who is unable to assess in some measure the knowledge of his communication partners, may be substantially restricted in his freedom to make plans or take decisions in a self-determined way’’.

My intention here is to provide just a brief sketch of the very different social contexts in which violations of informational privacy may coincide with restrictions on freedom. Informational privacy is relevant, first, in friendships and love relationships, serving both as a protection of relationships and as protection within relationships. In some theories of privacy, this even constitutes the very heart of privacy, ‘‘relational privacy’’ guaranteeing the opportunities for withdrawal that are constitutive for an authentic life (Fried 1968; Rachels 1975).

It is relevant, secondly, to the electronic data interchange and data synchronization that are an inevitable consequence of any purchase made over the Internet, the now vast opportunities for data abuse in citizens’ social dealings with one another (Whitaker 1999). In Europe, recent attempts to provide legislation, through European Union Directives, for example, have broken new ground, yet these are still a long way from being able to control the complex issues of privacy on the Internet and in cyberspace (Lessig 2000). The third aspect is state data collections and the opportunity these provide for misuse through discrimination. The problems and dangers of state control have become particularly manifest in recent years with anti-terrorist legislation both in the United States and in European countries.

As is well-known, one of the principles of recent state politics in all these countries has been to avert the threat of terrorism by constant improvements in identifiability; in other words, imposing increased restrictions on informational privacy and thus also on civil rights and liberties. The rationality of this approach is hotly disputed, and the dangers of the progressive erosion of individual liberty in Western democracies have been repeatedly underlined. At this point, however, it emerges that society is fundamentally ambivalent when it comes to privacy, for although public discussion in recent years has made it plain that restrictions in informational privacy also entail restrictions on civil liberties, the level of public protest has been moderate: there has not been a mass movement to protect informational privacy. People, it seems, are willing to pass on their data in business dealings and when shopping on the Internet as well. Finally, it is clear that many citizens themselves attach much less importance to the protection of informational privacy in the media (for example) than is being called for in political theory and by civil rights movements. This is evidenced by such phenomena as reality TV.

4.3 Local Privacy

With local privacy, we have come to the classic, traditional place of privacy, its most genuine locus: one’s own home, which for many people still intuitively represents the heart of privacy. It is within our own four walls that we can do just what we want, unobserved and uncontrolled. Yet it should be made clear from the outset that local privacy is not derived from a ‘‘natural’’ separation of spheres, but from the idea that one of the vital conditions for protecting individual freedoms in modern liberal democracies is to be able to withdraw to one’s own four walls. This has nothing to do with ‘‘nature,’’ but a great deal to do with the notion that (culturally or conventionally constructed) opportunities for withdrawal are a constitutive element of a person’s freedom.

Two different aspects of privacy are relevant here: solitude and ‘‘being for oneself’’ on the one hand, and the protection of family communities or relationships on the other. First, people seek the solitude and isolation provided by the protection of their private dwelling in order to avoid confrontation with others. This brings us back to the privacy of the body and the desire to shield one’s body from the sight of other people, thus securing a realm of personal intimacy that may even be bound up with feelings of shame (see Nussbaum 2004, 296–304). Another aspect of such privacy comes to light in the work of literary models such as Virginia Woolf or George Orwell, for both of whom the privacy of the room—the privacy to write or think—is a precondition for self-discovery and authentic life (Orwell 1954; Woolf 1977).

Second, local privacy offers protection for family relationships: the privacy of the household provides the opportunity for people to deal with one another in a different manner, and to take a break from roles in a way that is not possible when dealing with one another in public. As is known, however, this is a dimension of privacy that is especially prone to generate conflict. From the outset, this has been an important starting- point for feminist criticism, which has associated this realm and the understanding of privacy that accompanies it with the oppression of women, on account of the gender-specific division of labor, domestic violence, and in general, the notion that the home constitutes a pre-political space. This is a very important criticism, but I do not believe it entails a radical rejection of privacy as such.

What it does mean, however, is that in discussions about local privacy it is especially important to recall the meaning and function of privacy: to protect and facilitate freedom and autonomy, and more specifically, to protect and facilitate equal freedoms and equal opportunities to lead a rewarding life, for women and men alike. Conflicts can arise here with traditional conceptions of privacy as the loving family haven, but these have nothing to do with demands for justice or equal rights (Honneth 2004; contrast Rawls 1999). It should be clear by now that traditional conceptions of the gender-specific division of labor have nothing to do with a protection of privacy that is oriented towards the protection of individual freedom; and that this reconceptualization thus has repercussions for the justice of the family (Okin 1989, 1991).


For the analysis of the meaning and normative conception of privacy, certain insights strike me as fundamental: these include the feminist critique of the traditional separation between private and public, and the interconnection of privacy, freedom, and autonomy. It also seems clear that theoretical en- endeavors should not cling to the image of a realm or domain, but should conceive of privacy rather as a multidimensional concept calling for an interdisciplinary approach.

There remain a number of problems. First is the question of what privacy can mean in a multicultural state, and how cultural diVerences—often motivated by religion and with a special bearing upon the privacy of the body—should be normatively treated in a conception of privacy. Such problems in turn indicate that the boundary between the private and the public calls for constant reinterpretation is always open to dispute, and will never be fixed for good.

A second question concerns the relationship between the individual and the community at large. Especially for more conservative critiques of contemporary culture, one central issue is how far restrictions on individual privacy might prove necessary in order to protect communal practices or institutions, and how far certain privacies might have to be limited in the interests of ‘‘privacy as an obligation.’’ The lines of conflict between such communitarian discourse and feminist approaches based on personal liberties continue to be a matter of dispute, not only in philosophical and normative terms but also with respect to the juridical paradigm.

Third, and finally—and this I consider the central issue—a theory of privacy cannot ultimately be elaborated without a theory of democracy. Because the negotiation of the fragile boundary separating private freedom from social or state control—with regard to the Internet no less than the fight against terrorism—is what constitutes this boundary in the first place, the question of how such negotiation is to be democratically legitimated and This interdisciplinary approach should also include, next to the mentioned disciplines, media studies, and cultural studies more generally; cf. Koch (2004). Quite a number of films thematize the threat to personal privacy in very interesting ways, for instance (one of the first films to do so) The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola 1974) and, famously, The Truman Show (Peter Weir 1998) and Enemy of the State (Tony Scott 1998), to name but a few. Most of these films criticize control and surveillance from a quasi-liberal point of view; but compare, equally interesting, Arlington Road (Mark Pellington 1999) which is decidedly communitarian in outlook.

which model of democracy might correlate with the freedom-oriented concept of privacy is crucial. Moreover, recent conflicts concerning restrictions on privacy have made it clear not only that Western governments are quick to restrict rights to privacy when the security of the state is at issue, but also that the citizens themselves do not seem to set great store by the protection of their privacy—neither from state intrusion, nor on the Internet, nor in the media. If the normative connection between autonomy and privacy is right, then this indifference towards privacy is also an indifference towards autonomy. Yet democracy relies upon citizens who value their autonomy, both in public and in private. Threats to privacy, therefore, are always also threats to democracy.

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