Difference Wiki

Privacy vs. Confidentiality: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 20, 2023
"Privacy" is individuals' right to keep personal info undisclosed; "Confidentiality" is the obligation not to share others' private information.

Key Differences

"Privacy" pertains to the right of individuals to keep their information undisclosed and control over their personal data, whereas "Confidentiality" refers to the responsibility of keeping someone else's information private.
"Privacy" is a broader concept, often related to the right to be left alone, while "Confidentiality" specifically concerns the handling and protection of sensitive information.
"Privacy" is a personal right exercised by individuals, whereas "Confidentiality" is an obligation often present in professional relationships, such as between doctor and patient, or lawyer and client.
Breaches of "Privacy" typically involve unauthorized access to personal information, while breaches of "Confidentiality" involve disclosure of information trusted to an individual or organization.
"Privacy" often deals with the protection from public scrutiny, whereas "Confidentiality" maintains the secrecy of information shared within a trusted relationship.

Comparison Chart


Right to keep personal info undisclosed
Obligation to protect shared private info


Personal right
Professional or contractual duty


Unauthorized access or exposure
Unauthorized sharing


Broader, related to personal space
Specific to information shared in trust

Legal Implication

Protected by privacy laws
Governed by confidentiality agreements

Privacy and Confidentiality Definitions


She keeps her love life shrouded in privacy.


Trust in non-disclosure
She told her friend the secret, relying on her confidentiality.


He moved to the countryside for more privacy.


Secrecy agreement
The lawyer assured confidentiality of the conversation.


Personal space
Please respect my privacy and knock before entering.


Confidentiality is a key part of his role as a counselor.


Freedom from public attention
Celebrities often struggle to maintain their privacy.


Protection of private information
Patient confidentiality is crucial in healthcare.


The quality or condition of being secluded from the presence or view of others
I need some privacy to change into my bathing suit.


Non-sharing agreement
All employees signed a confidentiality clause.


The state of being free from public attention or unsanctioned intrusion
A person's right to privacy.


Done or communicated in confidence; secret.


(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.


Entrusted with the confidence of another
A confidential secretary.


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


Denoting confidence or intimacy
A confidential tone of voice.


(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.


Containing information, the unauthorized disclosure of which poses a threat to national security.


A place of seclusion.


(uncountable) The property of being confidential.


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


(countable) Something told in confidence; a secret.


(obsolete) Secrecy.


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


A private matter.


Discretion in keeping secret information.


The state of being in retirement from the company or observation of others; seclusion.


The state of being secret;
You must respect the confidentiality of your client's communications


A place of seclusion from company or observation; retreat; solitude; retirement.
Her sacred privacies all open lie.


Discretion in keeping secret information


Concealment of what is said or done.


A private matter; a secret.


See Privity, 2.


The quality of being secluded from the presence or view of others


The condition of being concealed or hidden


Control over personal information
Online users are fighting for digital privacy.


What happens if confidentiality is breached?

It can lead to legal penalties or professional censure.

Can privacy be waived?

Yes, individuals can choose to share private information.

Is confidentiality legally binding?

Yes, through contracts and professional ethics rules.

Does privacy only apply to personal data?

It primarily concerns personal data, but also relates to personal space and body.

Is privacy a human right?

Yes, it's recognized internationally as a fundamental human right.

Are there limits to privacy?

Yes, e.g., law enforcement can breach privacy under certain conditions.

Can confidentiality be broken legally?

Yes, if it's in the public interest or required by law.

Why is confidentiality critical in healthcare?

To protect patient rights and maintain trust in medical professionals.

How does technology affect privacy?

It poses challenges due to data collection and surveillance capabilities.

Can children exercise privacy?

To a degree, but it's limited based on age and safety concerns.

What's the difference between confidentiality and anonymity?

Confidentiality protects identity disclosure, while anonymity means identity is unknown.

How is confidentiality maintained in digital communications?

Through encryption and secure data handling protocols.

Can you demand privacy in public spaces?

Expectations of privacy are reduced in public, but certain rights remain.

Are home privacy and online privacy equal?

They're distinct; home privacy concerns physical space, online privacy concerns data.

How can individuals enhance their privacy?

Through measures like data encryption, secure passwords, and not oversharing information.

Who is responsible for maintaining confidentiality?

The individual or entity entrusted with the information.

Is confidentiality permanent?

It lasts as long as the agreement stipulates, or indefinitely for certain professions.

What constitutes a violation of confidentiality?

Sharing protected information without consent or legal justification.

Do privacy rights change across countries?

Yes, laws and cultural expectations of privacy vary.

What's a confidentiality breach in counseling?

Unauthorized disclosure of client information.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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