The concept of privacy may be expressed in two main ways: It can be thought of in a relatively passive fashion as respect for a feeling on the part of individuals that they would not wish certain information about themselves (including imagery) to be shared widely or made public.
This is widely respected in research ethics as a basis for establishing protocols about confidentiality or exercising self-restraint in data gathering. More recently, however, it has come be thought of more in terms of ‘a right, which safeguards a cluster of related interests. Generally, privacy is the protection of: (i) control over information about oneself, (ii) control over access to oneself, both physical and mental, and (iii) control over one’s ability to make important decisions about family and lifestyle in order to be self-expressive and to develop varied relationships’ (Hughes et al 2010). This is reflected in European legislation such as the General Data Protection Regulation (European Parliament and Council 2016). Article 25, in particular, requires organizations to achieve Privacy by Design and by Default, as an inherent property of innovations and data management rather than as a matter for individuals to request or grant. The implications of this, more stringent, concept of privacy for research, particularly in the social sciences, have yet to be fully established, although Article 6 provides a number of exemptions that would cover many, if not most, research projects (UKRI 2018).