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The legal concept of privacy has expanded significantly since its original formulation in 1890 in the Harvard Law Review by Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis as a right against embarrassing publicity. The rapid advance of information technology, especially the Internet, has generated concern about the protection of personal data, manifested in many jurisdictions by the adoption of data protection legislation. The contemporary conception of privacy thus incorporates not only the right of privacy (as enunciated in, for example, the European Convention on Civil and Political Rights, 1950), but also what may be called informational privacy.

At the heart of any conception of privacy lie several moral, cultural, and economic assumptions that are always contentious. What is private is plainly contingent on social and historical factors, and ...

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