UW Privacy Office

Personal Privacy

Last updated on November 13, 2023


The UW values your privacy. To raise awareness about privacy, the purpose and use of your data, and support your well-being we have collected the UW’s Privacy Notices and educational resources in one place. Learn more about the Privacy Principles and strategy that inform our practices.

What is privacy?

Privacy is a legal, technological, social, and philosophical concept that inspires robust discussion amongst academic and legal scholars. It is based on:

  • The right to be let alone.
  • Freedom from interference or intrusion.
  • Right to control how personal data are collected and used.[1]

There are different types of privacy:

  • Informational: The opportunity for people to decide when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others.
  • Bodily: Focuses on a person’s physical being and any impacts to the body (e.g., genetic testing, drug testing).
  • Communication: Protection of the forms of correspondence (e.g., email, phone conversations).
  • Territorial: Protection from the intrusion of one’s environment, including home, work, space in public (e.g., video surveillance, access logs).[2]
  • Intellectual: Protection from surveillance or interference before our ideas are ready for public consumption.[3]

Privacy preferences vary from person to person

Last updated on November 13, 2023

Privacy is a personal and unique matter – each of us has different sensitivities or areas of concern regarding personal data. Common areas of greatest concern include:

  • Identity (name, Social Security number, etc.).
  • Financial data (accounts, bankruptcies, taxes, etc.).
  • Health data (chronic illness, high blood pressure, cancer, medical records, etc.).
  • Privacy of your family and friends (images, locations, communications, etc.).
  • Digital recordings (videos, voicemail messages, photos, etc.).
  • Personal beliefs (political, religious, etc.).
  • Lifestyle choices (marital status, gender identity, living arrangements, etc.).
  • Privacy concerns are often different based upon context, circumstances, heritage, cultural norms, etc., and will vary vastly among family members, friends, and others.

What is personal data?

Last updated on November 13, 2023

Personal data is data that can be associated with a person, including pseudonymized and de-identified data. Anonymous data is not personal data. For UW’s formal definition, please visit our personal data, data classifications, and structures reference.

Where does personal data come from?

Last updated on November 13, 2023

  • You provide it (e.g., when signing up for services, surveys).
  • Collected or created by others (e.g., cookies, web use, sale of data to third-party, credit history, analytics).

What can be done with personal data?

Last updated on November 13, 2023

Any kind of use of personal data is called data processing. The data can be used in its original form, or it could be manipulated to create new information about you (e.g., analytics or combined with other datasets) or it can be used for different purposes than intended.

Privacy Notices

Our privacy notices describe how we collect, use, retain, and disclose personal information. These are practices that apply University-wide or to more than one organization at the UW.

Request information about your data

These resources enable you to make a request in relation to your data. This may include access to, correction of, or erasure of your personal data in connection with a privacy-related law, regulation, or consumer right.

Maintain privacy and digital wellness

This resource helps you assess your current digital footprint, identify your privacy risk concerns, then improve your privacy wellness going forward.

Learn about identity theft

This guide helps you understand how to spot, prevent, report, and recover from identity theft.

[1]International Association of Privacy Professionals. Glossary of Privacy Terms. (n.d.).
[2]International Association of Privacy Professionals. Glossary of Privacy Terms. (n.d.).
[3]Richards, N. (2022). Why privacy matters. Oxford University Press.