privacy, rights of

      in U.S. law, an amalgam of principles embodied in the federal Constitution or recognized by courts or lawmaking bodies concerning what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (Brandeis, Louis) described in 1890 as “the right to be left alone.” The right of privacy is a legal concept in both the law of torts and U.S. constitutional law. The tort concept is of 19th-century origin. Subject to limitations of public policy, it asserts a right of persons to recover damages or obtain injunctive relief for unjustifiable invasions of privacy prompted by motives of gain, curiosity, or malice. In torts (tort) law, privacy is a right not to be disturbed emotionally by conduct designed to subject the victim to great tensions by baring his intimate life and affairs to public view or by humiliating and annoying invasions of his solitude. Less broad protections of privacy are afforded public officials and other prominent persons considered to be “public figures,” as defined by law.

      Although the U.S. Constitution (constitutional law) does not explicitly protect privacy, the right is commonly regarded as created by certain provisions, particularly the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures; the First and Fifth include privacy protections in that they focus not on what the government may do but rather on the individual's freedom to be autonomous.

      The rights of privacy were initially interpreted to include only protection against tangible intrusions resulting in measurable injury. After publication of an influential article by Justice Brandeis and Samuel Warren, “The Right to Privacy,” in the Harvard Law Review in 1890, however, the federal courts began to explore various constitutional principles that today are regarded as constituent elements of a constitutional right to privacy. For example, in 1923 the Supreme Court (Supreme Court of the United States) struck down a Nebraska law prohibiting schools from teaching any language other than English, saying the law interfered with the rights of personal autonomy. In 1965 the Supreme Court held that the federal Constitution included an implied right of privacy. In that case, Griswold (Griswold v. State of Connecticut) v. Connecticut, the court invalidated a law prohibiting the use of contraceptives, even by married persons. Justice William O. Douglas, writing for the court, stated that there is a “zone of privacy” within a “penumbra” created by fundamental constitutional guarantees, including the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments. The Supreme Court extended this right to privacy to sexual relationships in 2003, striking down a Texas law criminalizing sodomy.

      The “right to be left alone” also has been extended to provide the individual with at least some control over information about himself, including files kept by schools, employers, credit bureaus, and government agencies. Under the U.S. Privacy Act of 1974, individuals are guaranteed access to many government files pertaining to themselves, and the agencies of government that maintain such files are prohibited from disclosing personal information except under court order and certain other limited circumstances. Modern technology, giving rise to electronic eavesdropping, and the practices of industrial espionage have complicated the problem of maintaining a right of privacy in both tort and constitutional law.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Privacy Rights Clearinghouse — (PRC) is a project of the [http://www.ucan.org/ Utility Consumers Action Network] (UCAN), an American 501(c)(3) non profit consumer advocacy organization. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse is devoted to upholding the right to privacy and… …   Wikipedia

  • Privacy law — is the area of law concerning the protection and preservation of the privacy rights of individuals. By definition, most countries treat privacy as the rights of individuals and not institutions. The governments and other organizations collect… …   Wikipedia

  • Privacy — For other uses, see Privacy (disambiguation). Privacy (from Latin: privatus separated from the rest, deprived of something, esp. office, participation in the government , from privo to deprive ) is the ability of an individual or group to seclude …   Wikipedia

  • Privacy laws of the United States — United States privacy laws embody several different legal concepts. One is the invasion of privacy , a tort based in common law allowing an aggrieved party to bring a lawsuit against an individual who unlawfully intrudes into his or her private… …   Wikipedia

  • Privacy Act 1988 — The Privacy Act 1988 is an Australian law regarding privacy of personal information enacted in 1988. Part III Division I sets out what interferences with privacy are.Section 14 of the Act stipulates a number of privacy rights known as the… …   Wikipedia

  • Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board — The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board is an advisory body to assist the President of the United States and other senior executive branch officials in ensuring that concerns with respect to privacy and civil liberties are appropriately… …   Wikipedia

  • Privacy International — (PI) is a UK based non profit organisation formed in 1990, as a watchdog on surveillance and privacy invasions by governments and corporations. PI has organised campaigns and initiatives in more than fifty countries and is based in London,… …   Wikipedia

  • Privacy enhancing technologies — (PET) is a general term for a set of computer tools, applications and mechanisms which when integrated in online services or applications, or when used in conjunction with such services or applications allow online users to protect the privacy of …   Wikipedia

  • privacy — UK US /ˈprɪvəsi/ US  /ˈpraɪvəsi/ noun [U] ► the right that someone has to keep their personal life or personal information secret or known only to a small group of people: »Among the three industries studied, concerns about privacy and security… …   Financial and business terms

  • privacy — pri·va·cy n: freedom from unauthorized intrusion: state of being let alone and able to keep certain esp. personal matters to oneself see also expectation of privacy, invasion of privacy; privacy interest at interest 3b, right of privacy; …   Law dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.