Front Page Titles (by Subject) Privacy and Consent - Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4
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Privacy and Consent - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, October/December 1978, vol. 1, No. 4 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Privacy and Consent
“Privacy and Secrecy: A Conceptual Comparison.”
Both privacy and secrecy involve restricted observability and the capacity to deny access to others. The authors contend that the two differ on a moral dimension. “Secrecy implies the concealment of something which is negatively valued by the excluded audience and, in some instances, by the perpetrator as well.” It is a means to escape being stigmatized. “Privacy, by contrast, protects behavior which is either morally neutral or valued by society as well as by the perpetrators... Privacy has a consensual basis in society, which secrecy does not. There is an agreed-upon ‘right to privacy’ in many areas of contemporary life; however, there is no equivalent, consensual ‘right to secrecy’.”
The authors take note of Shils's (1966) concept of “public-life secrecy.” “Public-life secrecy is secrecy on the part of those in power and their agents, acting purportedly in the public interest.” As such it is closely related to the institution of politics. “Public-life secrecy is active and directed at others' lives, while private-life secrecy is passive and protective of the self.... The secrecy of those empowered to act in the public interest is aimed at actively uncovering persons, groups, and activities which are a threat to those in power. In contrast, private-life secrecy is protective rather than aggressive; indeed, a major aim of private-life secrecy is to protect persons from secret agents of social control.”
For their example of privacy the authors selected various family activities, whereas their example of secrecy portrays the homosexual world. Whatever the value of these examples, the conceptual distinction between privacy and secrecy may lead to further research.