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A Sense Of Privacy, Privacy And Popular Fiction, Public And Private Realms, Rights Of Privacy In National And International Law

The volume of studies on privacy has increased tremendously since the 1970s, especially in the United States, and their geographical spread has become wider. These studies address new topics, including celebrity privacy for political and other public figures and privacy rights in international human rights law. Developments in advanced technology, such as electronic storage and DNA testing, have added increasing urgency to the debate, while overt and covert surveillance has become the major concern of Internet sites on privacy issues.

Debates on privacy are conducted on all levels. Personal, governmental, and commercial interests are all engaged, and academic arguments are informed by perspectives from almost every discipline in the humanities and social sciences, including philosophy, politics, geography, law, economics, sociology, social policy, anthropology, literature, language, and history. Journalists and the general public profess an intuitive understanding of what constitutes privacy, but decades of research suggest that there is a wide range of meanings even within a nation-state or common language. Within given communities, variations in attitudes can be related to age, gender, economic and social standing, and ethnic origin, but significant variations can also be found among individuals where these factors are roughly the same. Nevertheless, modern societies share an understanding that privacy is intelligible as a concept among the population at large and, as such, should be explicitly protected by law or custom as a valuable or even essential attribute of civilized life.

Privacy also appears in popular journalism and academic studies as a component of subjects that range across human experience, such as a sense of self; gender and body; private space and family life; intimacy and exclusion; and the impact of globalization on local and communal identity. Privacy studies tend to focus on one or more of the following aspects: (a) a sense of privacy, as experienced by people from different countries, times, and backgrounds; (b) distinctions between public and private realms; (c) rights of privacy in national and international law; (d) the role of advanced technology in privacy protection and intrusion; (e) the functions and values of privacy.

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