Without the ability to keep secrets, individuals lose the capacity to distinguish themselves from others, to maintain independent lives, to be complete and autonomous persons. This does not mean that a person actually has to keep secrets to be autonomous, just that she must possess the ability to do so.
The ability to keep secrets implies the ability to disclose secrets selectively, and so the capacity for selective disclosure at one’s own discretion is important to individual autonomy as well.
Secrecy is a form of power. The ability to protect a secret, to preserve one’s privacy, is a form of power. The ability to penetrate secrets, to learn them, to use them, is also a form of power. Secrecy empowers, secrecy protects, secrecy hurts. The ability to learn a person’s secrets without his or her knowledge — to pierce a person’s privacy in secret — is a greater power still.