Privacy is a democratic value. It is free thought and independence. Studies show that people change their behavior when they feel watched. They seek information less freely, act and express themselves less freely, are afraid to stand out and go against the flow. Trevor Hughes, CEO of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, IAPP, has a good explanation of the importance of privacy: “As humans, we seek solitude when we feel vulnerable. Sometimes, this is related to physical vulnerability. We seek to exclude ourselves from our societies when we are sick, or in moments of particular risk (think: sleeping, toileting, sex, etc.). But we also seek to exclude ourselves when we feel emotionally vulnerable. We seek private space to explore new identities or ideas.”
Privacy and the space to think and act without feeling watched is a prerequisite for individuals’ ability to act independently and freely. A private life ensures that each person can create his or her own unique identity and determine his or her life’s direction — the right to fail along the way or to go against the tide. The right to privacy is thus a prerequisite for active democracy.