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May 24, 2019 Tweet Word of the Week Like Word of the Week on Facebook
Word of the Week--"privacy"
Definition--freedom from unsanctioned intrusion, especially as a right. The state or condition of being concealed, secluded or isolated from view; secrecy.

Discussion--Privacy polices abound on the World Wide Web. However, many are not worth the electronic paper they're displayed on. Though web publishers understand the public's desire for privacy protection and attempt to respond, the response is often one of words and not actions.

Much gathered data are benign and not associated with an individual, but sites do make mistakes and don't always follow through on their listed policies. Some use heavily encrypted methods for transmitting credit card numbers and then leave those same numbers unencrypted on unprotected servers. Others send scads of unsolicited email to site visitors, while others attempt to profile users based on their browsing behavior.

It is interesting that the public's concern, while valid, does not exist to the same extent in older and in many ways more risky mediums. Many who balk at entering credit card information online, will willingly hand their credit card to a waitperson and watch it walk away to unknown destinations. Many of us will also happily recite our zip code to shop clerks for profiling purposes and gladly accept the unsolicited catalogs we receive.

In many ways our privacy is most important when we feel the most vulnerable; and despite the ability to remain anonymous, cyberspace is still perceived as a hostile environment to many.

Etymology--Privacy is a variant of private, which comes from the Latin privatus. The Latin term means not belonging to the state, not in public life, or deprived of office. It is the past participle of privare, meaning to deprive or release.

The Dutch, German, and Italian languages below show similar roots. The French and Spanish terms are based on the related term--intimate.

   Foreign Translations
Dutch:  privacy (de)
French:  intimite (m)
German:  Privatsphare (f)
Italian:  privacy
Spanish:  intimidad

Jane Ellis      Tweet Word of the Week Like Word of the Week on Facebook

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