The recent furore over privacy, brought about by the ballad of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, had me wondering, “What is going to be the last human right?” See, amongst the typical outrage, finger-pointing, and metaphorical finger-poking, I saw several sincere calls for the implementation of “privacy” as a human right.
A loose definition of the concept, courtesy of Wikipedia: “Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves, or information about themselves, and thereby express themselves selectively.” Embedding that as a fundamental human right seems like an honourable course for society, right? But what I find more interesting about this call is that it is a live example of the progression of our consideration of other’s worth.
For example, in antiquity slavery was permitted. A person could legally own another person, via indebtedness. Naturally, the indebted had fewer rights than their owners. And as we’ve moved forward in time, the collection of human rights has expanded from a tiny mote to a considerable sphere. Now, in most developed countries, both men and women are eligible to vote, and thus influence politics at a local, regional and national level. Now, in most countries, the following are recognised as rights granted to all human beings:
– The right to life.
– Freedom from torture and slavery.
– Freedom of speech.
– Freedom of thought, conscience and belief.
– Freedom of movement.
This is but a sample. As we develop, both individually and collectively, more and more are added to the list. In the 20th century, woman and many minorities won the right to vote. But what about the 21st century? Will we see developments at the upper end of the range of human rights—the acceptance of concepts like privacy, security, and universal basic incomes as fundamental human rights—or will we see more progress at the lower end—freedom of speech, thought and movement, and freedom from abuse and oppression rolled out to more people around the world? And on an even longer timescale, what will the fundamental rights of a fully developed humanity consist of?