I think’ the definition of ‘disturbed’ will play a large part in where I sit on this. I started by discounting it entirely on a knee-jerk reaction but that’s wrong.

So what is disturbance? I have a phone. If I don’t want to be disturbed by it, I turn it off. Receiving a call I don’t answer or a text I don’t read isn’t a ‘disturbance’ per se and, as I can turn the notifications for either off, the level of interaction I need to have with the device is fully in my control.

The doorbell example is also a good one. Where is the ‘disturbance’ line drawn? I don’t have to answer the door just because the bell rings just like I don’t have to answer the phone. That is my prerogative. I do believe people have the right to ring the bell and the phone, however, unless we’re really going to head down the path of dismantling society for the sake of each individuals differing needs for what they choose to define as privacy.


Well that would be up to you! (Or the individual)

I think you bring up a fascinating contention point here, if perhaps there’s a little hyperbole spin on it. Personally, I think I’m pretty inline with your thinking on this. Societal norms that could otherwise be considered a privacy violation if they weren’t such fundamental components of our society aren’t a violation of privacy in my view.

With that said, I do believe it’s within the rights of the individual to decide for themselves if they don’t want that. That’s generally how societies evolve, when enough individuals collectively change their mindset. But in this sense it would be up to the individual to go out of their way to protect their privacy rather than expect society to respect it. That’s my take.

Hyperbole, possibly. I was certainly going for language to highlight the contention between the desire of the individual and the ‘needs’ of the society. It wasn’t a ‘strength of feeling’ indicator on my part.

I think I was starting from the ‘it can’t be privacy then’ angle but another way of looking at it would be that ‘it’s privacy that is waived by convention’. Hmmm. I’m not sure I’m fully on board with that.

Going back to the text message discussion in another thread that started this off, because specifics are helpful, I have already stated that I don’t see receipt of a text message as breaching my privacy because my phone is on and notifications (for messages) are on. Whether the message is Spam or not is a greyer area (and not for this thread). I tend towards ‘No’ on that one also.

On the Currys phone number, I still stand where I started - it’s not associated with my name and is not revealing anything about me, I have no rights over who chooses to stick it in a computer in that anonymised (or erroneous!) way. The argument that it’s “my number” doesn’t really stick. There are lots of attributes about me that, without my name attached are meaningless. I guess I regard a phone number in the same way.

1 Like

The strongest argument, and why I would remove the number if it happened to me at work, is “you are not reaching the customer you are trying to reach.”

That’s fine and sensible but it’s a different reason to privacy and is not dictated to you by the person on the other end of the phone or governed under GDPR etc.

Clearly if you kept ringing it and making a nuisance of yourself there would be other grounds for complaint so that’s best avoided.

1 Like

Just another thought that, this is deeply cultural too.

When I was in China I often noted how their concept of privacy was very different. Most kids I knew lived in dorms, shared everything, lots of adults shared rooms or had a lot less concept of ‘this is my space/my room’ etc, it felt like everything was roundabout communal (this is a broad brush, I’m not talking about every individual here, just culturally). Whereas Western culture is much more individualistic - a lot more is said about ‘me’ and ‘my identity’, ‘my convenience’ and ‘my privacy’ - almost to the point where these things are held as sacred.

It’s not really good or bad but just an observation, although I do wonder if a cultural obsession with ‘privacy’ is linked with how common feelings of loneliness and isolation are in our society and whether it’s gone too far. Most of our conception of privacy is, after all, fundamentally egoistic.


This definitely applies to Indian culture, which is very strongly family oriented, over the individual.

At the risk of generalising, it feels like a general contrast between Western and Eastern cultures.


I was thinking as I was writing earlier that the current situation is, in one sense, perhaps a luxury of the recent evolution in western culture (and dare I say relative wealth?) that could never have been envisioned some decades in the past (and no doubt in some parts of the world now).


It’s hard to say.

I can’t speak for every British Indian, but 30+ years here has not really made a big dent on the primacy of the family over the individual in our culture.


What’s the society like in India? I wonder if perhaps democracy is the larger influence, rather than culture. The two are so entwined that neither would almost be able to exist without the other. Democracy affords us freedoms, like privacy, and privacy plays a fundamental role in making democracy work.

The observation on culture is above is a particularly interesting one and something I’m going to research into a bit more. There is perhaps a downside to privacy that enables individuals to perhaps keep themselves closed up and isolated. Only a correlation though, there are plenty of other societal factors in play when it comes to those issues, though there is some research:

Interesting and thought provoking dilemma there. As ever, I think it highlights the important of striking the right balance as a society. In some ways I think we fall short, and others we overreach. I’d regard this is a separate issue of privacy to the context of privacy as a human right, or in the context of data privacy though. Making a concession in one context doesn’t need to ripple through others.

In contrast, one thing I’ve noted anecdotally in recent years, both for myself, and many of my peers, is the overreach and eradication of digital privacy that we’ve been experiencing can have a detrimental impact to mental health too. Life can at times feel all too helpless or hopeless, and I’ve certainly been at a crossroads where my activism for privacy feels like my purpose is only to delay the inevitable.

1 Like

I don’t think so. Not only is India democratic, but so is South Korea and I don’t think that’s changed that aspect of the society much.

I think in terms of democracy working, only really privacy from the government, and maybe in some circumstances from corporations, is important. Privacy from your family, friends, and on a social scale, I don’t think that’s a precursor to democracy

1 Like

That’s what I meant sorry! Didn’t mean to conflate the two

1 Like

Have been leaving this thread unread as I wanted to come and post properly when I had some time.

This isn’t that time but saw this horror show and thought I’d share here: The UK Government is reportedly preparing a PR blitz against end-to-end encryption | Engadget


Whilst I can understand the argument about child exploitation
(Nobody would argue against that)
I do feel that there has to be a balance. Using one argument to try and invade everyone’s privacy is a step too far.
I certainly wouldn’t want some of my private messages available to the likes of Government, etc.


people been nabbing variants of the government’s domain for this and redirecting it to that blog post.

1 Like

For anyone else using Duck email (highly recommended BTW!)


LOL. Shame we left.


Feels like this belongs here, because that’s what they’re moaning about; your privacy.

This comment from Jon phrases it excellently:

One person’s optimisation and filtering is another’s surveillance and censorship.

The entire summit live stream is worth a watch if you’re interested in this stuff, but this was the headline speech. A little self serving to Apple’s own interests, but otherwise was a solid address on the issue we face as a society.