Where is the line between privacy and freedom of access to information

May 15, 2012

It is easy to proclaim that we should have free access to information, but when does this freedom infringe on the rights to privacy of information?  It is easy to get up in arms when we see the government withholding information to which we feel entitled.  On the other hand, when we see access to information as infringing upon our private lives, we see things differently.  Being in healthcare I am more than aware of confidentiality requirements and FOIPP.  I would not be comfortable with health information becoming available to the public as I can see all kinds of potential abuses, including decisions made by insurance companies that could affect individuals’ lives.

Julian Assange uncovered a lot of corruption, but do the ends justify the means?  Assange invaded privacy under the premise of uncovering government secrets and exposing illegal activity.  He is enraged by the government’s access to information in the name of homeland security and yet he too violates privacy rights to get what he wants. I see it along the same premise as violence breeds violence – corruption also breeds corruption.

A recent article that shows a few examples of how police have uncovered suspects by Facebook illustrates our dilemma – what information is free information and what is private?


  1. Interesting post, Heather. I just realized after reading it the we have been learning about these very extremes – that we as individuals want to be private, untraceable, and secured… but what goes on in the social political realm should be free, open, and accessible. When you become a public figure, is your personal information then public (thinking about scandals, etc)…

    • Thanks for the comments Sylvia. It is always the extremes – the long tail – that we focus on and forget about the 80% that really affects us!

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