Privacy and Communications Technologies in U.S. History: A Comparison of Concepts of Privacy in Relation to Changing Communications Technologies

Open Access
Kim, Young Chun
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
January 06, 2006
Committee Members:
  • Patrick Robert Parsons, Committee Chair
  • Richard Denny Taylor, Committee Member
  • Matthew Jackson, Committee Member
  • Steven A Walton, Committee Member
  • Steven Sawyer, Committee Member
  • Privacy
  • Internet
  • Mass Media
  • Newspapers
  • Communications Technologies
This comparative study explores the relationship between the concept of privacy and the development of communications technologies in U.S. history. This examination of privacy with communications technologies helps us to understand how the concept of privacy has gained its new contents, meanings, and functions in different times and societies shaped by communications technologies. Before examining the relationship between privacy and communications technologies, this study attempts to define the fundamental nature and functions of privacy from a philosophical perspective by using body-heart-mind (physical-emotional-spiritual) metaphors. In relation to mainstream communications technologies, this study examines the main concerns of privacy as related to mass media and the Internet, respectively. Newspapers, the first mass medium, changed the nature of privacy concerns from the physical intrusion on personal boundary to the exposure of personal life. On the other hand, the rise of the Internet in the information society has again raised new concerns of privacy, but ones focused on the abuse of personal information. This study compares these findings and traces the changing aspects of privacy as they relate to communications technologies. After analyzing the relationship between the nature of privacy (physical-emotional-spiritual privacy) and communications technologies, this study also suggests directions and guidelines for making privacy policies in the Internet age.