A recent library institute on privacy noted that “privacy … is crucial to free speech, freedom of thought, and equal access to information,” now challenged by the “mass collection of … data,” and that “our profession has been slow to respond [to this] threat.” The failure is broader: a theoretical approach to privacy unmoored from contemporary reality. It is the context of what has been known for some time that reveals the shortcomings of privacy theories. This article will review where our current theories come from: the broader field of information ethics and its intellectual framing of privacy issues. The article will review theoretical and historical insights that should inform our ideas about what privacy is and when it is effectively absent or invaded. These insights provide a much more informative context for democratic values, concluding with recommendations to blend the two traditions and move privacy forward.