What is the relationship between privacy and transparency?

Privacy means something unique to everyone and it depends on who you ask, how you ask and in what contest. However, privacy by law gives you the right to be let alone. It should enable you to have a space and freedom away from interference and intrusion.

Other more subtle privacy ideas include:

  • Information privacy is the right to have some control over how your personal information is collected and used.
  • Personal privacy taking the general right of everyone but making it better for you than others
  • State privacy. Part of the thinking that legislation such as the "Official Secrets Act" is set up to protect the state above the individual
  • Group Privacy: protecting individuals rights at scale, when considering analysis and re-identification.
  • …….There are lots more

Transparency – according to Wiki ….. as used in science, engineering, business, the humanities and in other social contexts, is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability.

Transparency is about shedding light on rules, plans, processes and actions. It is knowing why, how, what, and how much. Transparency ensures that public officials, civil servants, managers, board members and businesspeople act visibly and understandably, and report on their activities. And it means that the general public can hold them to account. It is the surest way of guarding against corruption, and helps increase trust in the people and institutions on which our futures depend. See how transparency can defeat corruption in a range of areas.

There are an ever-growing number of types or forms of transparency, here are a few:

  • Radical Transparency: brutal form, no hiding from yourself or others. Everything is in the open for everyone.
  • Personal Transparency: the beginning of a journey towards meaningful relationships.
  • Information transparency: The presentation of information so that it is openly available, accessible, comprehensive and clearly understandable.
  • Expectation transparency: Companies strive to do the right thing, correct their mistakes, and take transparency to a much higher level to maintain their respect and reputation to all stakeholders
  • Perception Transparency: is the phenomenon of seeing one surface behind another, therefore the ability to see the business / product / customer / problem from both places
  • Intent Transparency: being clear on why

However I like this definition from Transparancy.org

Transparency is the opportunity and even the obligation of institutions to communicate pertinent information to their stakeholders. Individuals have no such obligation. Personal information, be it biographical, biological, genealogical, historical, transactional, locational, relational, computational, vocational or reputational, is the stuff that makes up our modern identity. It must be managed responsibly. In fact, to have a secure life and self-determination, individuals have an obligation to themselves to protect their personal information. And institutions should be transparent about what they do with our personal information. Transparency and privacy go hand in hand. Advocating individual privacy and institutional transparency simultaneously is not illogical; it is common sense.

Or for those with a more government focus: http://www.egov4dev.org/transparency/categories.shtml#content

What is obvious (I hope) that at no point can privacy and transparency be a single relationship. In each case the words are used there needs to be a context to define the relationship they may and will have.

Indeed so much of privacy is protection and so much of transparency is aspiration.