Sunday, December 18, 2005

Privacy>Confidentiality>Trust - Long Post

A blogger Spoonfork (Mel) commented on one of my write-up to elaborate further on my understanding on the issues of Privacy, Confidentiality and Trust. Being a person who may not be strong in the command of the English Language, I will attempt to answer him by describing this through a thought process. Basically, how do I rationalize the relationship between Privacy, Confidentiality and Trust.

Definition in Dictionary.Com
  • Privacy is "The quality or condition of being secluded from the presence or view of others."
  • Confidentiality is " Entrusted with the confidence of another" and
  • Trust is "Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing"
Privacy (in my view) is trying to keep the view or information secluded to other and relates to a person specific or personal space, but Confidentiality covers a bigger aspect of secluding of information or entrusted confidential information relating to person or any other persons, company and/or entity. However, the common challenge in defining Privacy is that there seems to be a philosophical view of what the boundaries are and varying degree of what is deemed private and what is not.
Those familiar with Venn Diagram will know that if I were to draw two circles having overlaps, one circle represents Privacy while the other Confidentiality. In an illustration, it will go as follows :-
  • "A" tells "B" about a certain confidential information. "B" accidently disclose the information about "A" to third party. "B" is breaching a Confidentiality Agreement which has led to "A" privacy being infringed.
  • "A" tells "B" about a Confidential information about a company "X". "B" accidentally disclose the information to third party. "B" is breaching Confidentiality Agreement but has not infringed "A's" privacy.
The private/public domain of one person may not be the same of another. Here are two simple example for illustrative purposes:-
  • If a business card is pass on from person "A" to person "B". On the business card, there are contact number, email address, Company and Position. If this information is then passed on to a third party, the generally accepted principle under Common Law is that it is not infringing the privacy of "A" as the information is deemed available in Public Domain. Unless "A" explicitly spells out to "B" that the card is explicitly for "B" and not to be shared, then the action of "B" does not constitute breaching of confidentiality and "A's" privacy is not infringed.
  • "B" goes to "A's" house and visits the compound and garden and since "A" defines his personal space is his house, "A" does not find "B" as infringing his privacy. "B" goes to "C's" house, but "C" defines his personal space is the house, garden and compound and thus when "B" goes and "trespass" into "C's" garden, "B" is infringing "C's" privacy. Here, the boundaries are subjective and since unbeknown to "B", "B" can get into trouble.
Nevertheless, there still are disagreement because what is deemed private has to be explicitly made known.

Trust however, is the result of a person or entity that has been providing reliable, predictable and secure services to another over a period of time. Which is why, in the Network world, you may require technologies that build trust through the keeping of Information in a Secure Manner (Confidentiality), preserving the Integrity of the information, presented to you by and Identifiable and Authenticated Persons/Servers. This require another independent chapter on its own though ;-).


Levin said...

Quote: "Being a person who may not be strong in the command of the English Language..."

You're too modest. :)

I'm impressed by your analysis. Very in-depth and informative.


The Editor said...

Mr Levin,

I am just being a realist. There are many on the Net who are far better in English. I for one have had flurry of misunderstanding due to non comprehension of certain definitions and meaning of words, hence the disclaimer.

Thanks for the comment and great that U find it useful