Doc Searls asks Do we have to “trade off” privacy?
My simple answer: No, nor can we.
Privacy is a natural right.
Privacy cannot be given away.
Privacy is the individual’s natural ability to exclude others from the spaces they inhabit and can secure – including the material and intellectual possessions within.
What people give away is information about themselves, in their statements to others – other individuals who also have the freedom of speech and a natural right to liberty to communicate that which they have been made privy to.
No individual can alienate a natural right from themselves. Thus a right to privacy is a right to exclude others from what you have not told them, but not to gag them from speaking what you have told them – even if they wanted to surrender their right.
That’s privacy as a natural, human right.
NB Non-disclosure agreements may make continued employment contingent on non-disclosure, but they cannot actually suspend an individual’s liberty to disclose the knowledge they have been made privy to (a corporation, having no such right, can of course be so bound).
Everything else is a matter of confidence and discretion – as it has been since time immemorial. How well confidants can be relied upon to be discreet depends upon how well you know them and how well others do (their reputation). How well they maintain your confidence has repercussions for your trust and their reputation.
It is impossible to do business with someone and have a relationship with them without revealing any information. That said, it is possible for an individual to conceal their human identity, to do business via an artifical identity (with its own trading reputation), thus maintaining a business relationship without necessarily disclosing personal information.
Privacy is about preventing people from knowing what you’ve not disclosed, not about preventing them from disclosing what you’ve let them know.