This was my idea. I phrased it in Constitutional terms because…well, I’m not sure why. I really was hoping was that we could talk about the many emerging threats to personal privacy and why so few people seem to care about it.
“Privacy” does not appear in the Constitution, but many of the Bill of Rights amendments imply such a right. Maybe partly because privacy is an implied right, its meaning and limits have been subject to many changing interpretations. Privacy is about:
- Physical Privacy: Freedom from arbitrary police search and seizure and government surveillance power; bodily privacy, like sexual freedom, reproductive rights, and protection from cruel and unusual punishment.
- Informational Privacy: Privacy of one’s personal information, such as medical and financial records and, these days, information about one’s internet use.
- Spiritual and Intellectual Privacy: Even freedom of religion and speech can be thought of as privacy-related. Think of this as privacy of thought.
So, we have our hands full. Yet, privacy is one of the key legal/Constitutional issues of our time, especially with the explosion of easily accessed personal information. I think privacy now is what free speech (1st amendment) was to the 1920s, New Deal legality (Commerce clause), was to the 1930s, and civil rights (14th amendment) were to the 1950s-60s. Privacy has been a hot button issue at all of my life, especially since Roe v. Wade was decided on the basis of privacy rights in 1973.
In a 10-minute overview I’ll discuss:
- What the Constitution actually says about privacy and how what that means has evolved in recent decades (5 minutes);
- Emerging threats to privacy, both from government, corporations, and from each other;
- Some possible reasons why people seem so blase about it all (fear of terrorism, comfort living in an on-line, Facebooked world, etc.).
- What is the “right to privacy?” [Read Section I of this long article on abortion rights for a short, pithy summary of what the right to privacy means.]
- Private threats to privacy: What do companies know about you? Part I, Anonymity In Name Only, Part II of a 6-part series from the WSJ.
- Government threats: Our surveillance state. Much longer version here.
- Abortion/reproductive health (Links later)
- The dramatic narrowing of criminal suspect rights. (Links later)
This should be a good one. Plus, the new schedule will be ready and copies will be available.