The fourth volume of A History of Private Life commences with the claim that ‘the nineteenth century was the golden age of the private life, a time when the vocabulary and reality of private life took shape.’ [5]The concept of privacy gradually formed in the Renaissance, and then in the eve of the industrial revolution, some citizens asked the legal system to meet people’s growing demand for the protection of personal privacy for the first time. With the advent of the industrial revolution, the number of population increased sharply, while at the same time quality of people’s life had also been greatly improved. Citizens especially workers desired to live in an independent, healthy and convenient place.

The government gradually began to realize that privacy should belong to a default right of human life, especially in the situation that the general public material wealth had been rapidly increased which made the relationship between privacy and wealth more and more close. But because of the lack of law, the postman could even casually read the letters which should be posted or collected by them without any punishment. You could even hear someone reading the letter which you had wrote to your wife loudly on the street in London in 1700.

Then The Post Office (Revenues) Act 1710 was published and it was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, which established post offices in the colonies and allotted its weekly revenues for the on-going war and other uses. The bill explicitly prohibited the postman to read the letters that are in the delivery, which was the first attempt to protect the privacy of the law, although the concept of privacy was not clear at that period. According to the early handwriting record, August 20, 1770, the revolutionary and the upcoming president of the United States, John Adams, voiced to support the concept of “privacy”.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, newspapers liked to report news and scandals about people’s marriages and some pornographic gossip, which led to a sense of disgusting for privacy being peeped. In the mid-nineteenth century, due to the continuous emergence of the revolutionary war, many government hostile elements were hiding in the civilian population. So the government’s espionage activities against civilians became more prosperous as the war going on and scandals were frequent. There was a paroxysm of public anger after the scandal. More and more people were disappointed with the government and desired for the right to privacy for everyone.

The single most influential article on privacy, “Harvard Law Review”, in 1890 by Warren and Brandeis. “The Right To Privacy” is often cited as the first implicit declaration of a U.S. right to privacy. They sought to establish a new legal right amidst the prevailing confusion of judgments and legislation. In doing so they exposed a fault line in the conception of the subject that was to become increasingly salient as public concern about privacy grew during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

‘The intensity and complexity of life, attendant upon advancing civilization, have rendered necessary some retreat from the world, and man, under the refining influence of culture, has become more sensitive to publicity, so that solitude and privacy have become more essential to the individual; but modern enterprise and invention have, through invasions upon his privacy, subjected him to mental pain and distress, far greater than could be inflicted by mere bodily injury. ‘Which is wrote in the “The Right To Privacy”.

‘The end of privacy began in the mid-1960s.’.  This alarm firstly was generated by the surveillance devices including cameras and listening devices, but proclaimed formally by Jerry Rosenburg in 1969,”At present, a national computer system is planned that we will have an almost limitless capability to store, retrieve information on persons, organizations and a variety of their activities.” We are coming to the point that if the commercial incentives to mine the data are in place, the anonymity of any kind may be “algorithmically impossible,” says Princeton University computer scientist Arvind Narayanan.”

During the recent years,  there has been an increasingly (even contentious) debate towards who and how to collect and use personal data from users since the invention of “cookies” in 1994. Those famous companies such as Facebook, Google and Tencent have admitted that they collect information such as personal purchasing habits and records, social media content, location data, etc. In the privacy policy of google, they divided what they will collect and use your data into 3 parts: “Things you do”, “Things you create”, and “Things that make you ‘you’”. It almost covers everything you interact with the Internet.