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Privacy vs. Confidentiality — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on September 28, 2023
Privacy refers to the right of individuals to keep their personal matters and information secluded from others. Confidentiality refers to the obligation to protect someone's information from being disclosed.
Privacy vs. Confidentiality — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Privacy and Confidentiality

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Key Differences

Privacy is an individual's right to keep their personal information and activities away from public scrutiny. It allows a person to have a space or information that is exclusively their own. Confidentiality, on the other hand, deals with the responsibility to safeguard someone else's information from unauthorized access or disclosure.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023
In the realm of healthcare, for example, privacy would mean that a patient has the right to keep their medical records and health history private. Confidentiality in the same context refers to the obligation healthcare providers have to protect that information from being disclosed without the patient's consent.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023
From a grammatical standpoint, both "Privacy" and "Confidentiality" are nouns. The related adjectives would be "private" and "confidential," respectively. While privacy focuses more on the concept of 'personal space,' confidentiality centers around the concept of 'trust and obligation.'
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023
Privacy is often a legal right protected by constitutions and laws, such as the right to privacy in the U.S. Constitution. Confidentiality is often a legal obligation, stipulated in contracts, professional ethics codes, or laws that prohibit unauthorized disclosure of confidential information.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023
Both privacy and confidentiality are crucial in various settings, such as legal, medical, and corporate environments. While privacy is about the individual's choice to disclose or not, confidentiality is about the duty one has to keep someone else's disclosed information secret.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Focus

Individual Right
External Obligation
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Related to

Personal Matters
Someone Else's Information
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Grammatical Use

Noun
Noun
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Related Adjective

Private
Confidential
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Legal Context

Often a Legal Right
Often a Legal Obligation
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Compare with Definitions

Privacy

The right to keep one's personal matters confidential.
Everyone should respect your privacy online.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Confidentiality

The obligation to keep someone else's information secure.
Medical professionals must uphold confidentiality.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Privacy

The condition of being secluded from others.
I need some privacy to concentrate on my work.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Confidentiality

The act of limiting information to authorized persons.
Confidentiality is required for this project.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Privacy

Freedom from unauthorized surveillance.
Privacy laws prevent unwarranted spying.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Confidentiality

The quality of being private and not publicly disclosed.
The confidentiality of the meeting was crucial.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Privacy

The state of being free from public attention.
I moved to the countryside for more privacy.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Confidentiality

The duty to protect sensitive information.
Lawyers owe their clients strict confidentiality.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Privacy

Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively. When something is private to a person, it usually means that something is inherently special or sensitive to them.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

A principle of ethical or contractual secrecy.
She broke confidentiality by leaking the document.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Privacy

A state in which one is not observed or disturbed by other people
She returned to the privacy of her own home
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

Confidentiality involves a set of rules or a promise usually executed through confidentiality agreements that limits access or places restrictions on certain types of information.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

The quality or condition of being secluded from the presence or view of others
I need some privacy to change into my bathing suit.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

Done or communicated in confidence; secret.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

The state of being free from public attention or unsanctioned intrusion
A person's right to privacy.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

Entrusted with the confidence of another
A confidential secretary.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

(uncountable) The state of being secluded from the presence, sight, or knowledge of others.
I need my privacy, so please stay out of my room.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

Denoting confidence or intimacy
A confidential tone of voice.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

(uncountable) Freedom from unwanted or undue disturbance of one's private life.
It takes a village to rob one of a sense of privacy.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

Containing information, the unauthorized disclosure of which poses a threat to national security.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

(uncountable) Freedom from damaging publicity, public scrutiny, surveillance, and disclosure of personal information, usually by a government or a private organization.
Privacy is assumed by many to be among common-law rights.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

(uncountable) The property of being confidential.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

A place of seclusion.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

(countable) Something told in confidence; a secret.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

A relationship between parties seen as being a result of their mutual interest or participation in a given transaction, contract etc.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

The state or attribute of being secret; privacy; as, you must respect the confidentiality of your client's communications.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

(obsolete) Secrecy.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

Discretion in keeping secret information.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

A private matter.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

The state of being secret;
You must respect the confidentiality of your client's communications
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

The state of being in retirement from the company or observation of others; seclusion.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Confidentiality

Discretion in keeping secret information
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

A place of seclusion from company or observation; retreat; solitude; retirement.
Her sacred privacies all open lie.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

Concealment of what is said or done.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

A private matter; a secret.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

See Privity, 2.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

The quality of being secluded from the presence or view of others
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

The condition of being concealed or hidden
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 27, 2021

Privacy

The act of keeping one's information secure.
Privacy settings can keep your data safe.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 19, 2023

Common Curiosities

Are privacy and confidentiality the same?

No, privacy is an individual's right, whereas confidentiality is often a duty imposed on a third party.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Who is responsible for maintaining privacy?

Individuals are primarily responsible for their own privacy but may also rely on laws and systems for protection.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

What is privacy?

Privacy is the right to keep one's personal information, activities, and matters secluded from others.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

What is confidentiality?

Confidentiality is the obligation to protect someone else's private information from unauthorized access or disclosure.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Is confidentiality legally binding?

Yes, breaches of confidentiality can often result in legal penalties.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Are there laws governing privacy?

Yes, various laws, like GDPR and HIPAA, protect individual privacy.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Who is responsible for maintaining confidentiality?

The parties entrusted with someone else's private information are responsible for maintaining confidentiality.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

How is confidentiality maintained in healthcare?

Healthcare providers are obligated by law, such as HIPAA, to keep patient information confidential.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

When is it acceptable to breach confidentiality?

Breaching confidentiality is generally only acceptable under extreme circumstances like imminent danger.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Can technology impact privacy?

Yes, technology can both enhance and threaten individual privacy through means like data encryption or surveillance.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Can you have confidentiality without privacy?

No, confidentiality is a means of protecting privacy, so you can't have confidentiality without some form of privacy to protect.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Do companies have a right to privacy?

While not the same as individual privacy, companies do have certain proprietary and trade secret protections.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

What happens if confidentiality is broken?

Breach of confidentiality can lead to legal consequences, damaged reputation, and a loss of trust.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Is confidentiality a form of privacy?

Confidentiality can be considered a subset or a tool for ensuring privacy but is not identical to privacy.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Can individuals waive their right to privacy?

Yes, individuals can choose to share their private information, effectively waiving some privacy rights.
Tayyaba Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to askdifference.com. As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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