Privacy and Freedom


In recent public discussion privacy appears as a threatened sphere: Governmental and non-governmental actors increasingly collect personal data while at the same time data subjects have a tendency to disclose these data. Therefore it can be asked: What is it about privacy that is worth protecting? And how can this protection be guaranteed?

The Volkswagen Foundation has sponsored this interdisciplinary research project Transformations of Privacy, the aim of which is to combine four disciplines dealing with the importance, value and limits of privacy: Information, Policy, Media and Legal Science. In an interdisciplinary manner the relationship between privacy, freedom and democracy under the circumstances of modern information technology will be analysed.

This conference on Privacy and Freedom deals with one of the three major interests of the project (Privacy and Freedom, Privacy and Democracy, Privacy in the Information Society). The focus is on the understanding of freedom within various conceptions of privacy. Is privacy to be understood as a claim of individual freedom or does privacy constitute a value for society as a whole?

What does it mean to consider privacy as a fundamental value of liberal-democratic societies? Is it justifiable to claim a “right to privacy” in relation to others in order to live a self-determined life? Or should privacy be regarded as the protection of “contextual integrity” (Helen Nissenbaum), of social practices and relations in which freedom gains importance? Which challenges from the media, politics, the law and information technology have to be faced given the circumstances of recent technical transformations?

For registration (until 15th April 2015):