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When dealing with the Internet, the concept of privacy—the protection of one’s personal information—seems almost illusionary, as information on the Internet is often freely accessible and difficult to protect in general, much less in the specific. There are myriad avenues of potential informational releases, and attendant breaches, of personal privacy. This entry begins by first defining privacy in general and then Internet privacy specifically. It then drills down into two distinct types of privacy desired when using the Internet: (1) proactive and (2) reactive.

Privacy, as a whole, is a relatively modern concept with roots in the pre-Enlightenment era but more carefully developed in the Enlightenment era, as greater personal economic worth permitted the development of luxuries such as protecting information concerning one’s personal life. One ...

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