“Privacy” comes from the Latin term privates, which means, separated from the rest or deprived of something. People, cultures, and nations vary in their expectations regarding how much privacy a person is entitled to or what constitutes an invasion of privacy.
Privacy rights in the United States began with British common law, which at the time protected only the physical interference of life and property. Over time, these rights expanded to ‘recognition of man’s spiritual nature and his feelings and intellect.” Later, there was the ‘right to be let alone’ and the definition of property would comprise ‘every form of possession, intangible as well as tangible.’
A greater interest in privacy grew from the growth of print media, especially newspapers. Newspaper journalism in the mid to late 1800s became extremely sensationalistic. In addition, with the discovery of the portable camera, came more candid snapshots of people in public places. Such invasions of privacy spurred the Warren and Brandeis article “The Right to Privacy”. In it, they explained “Political, social and economic changes entail the recognition of new rights, and the common law, in its eternal youth, needs to grow to meet the demands of society.”
Warren and Brandeis add, “the press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and of decency. Gossip is no longer the resource of the idle and of the vicious, but has become a trade, which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery.”
Within the Warren and Brandeis article it was also written that privacy laws should protect both businesses and private individuals.
From this, privacy laws were created. Today, privacy laws are classified into General and Specific. General privacy laws have an overall bearing on the personal information of individuals and affects the policies that govern many different areas of information. Specific privacy laws are broke down into specific categories that include: physical, informational, organizational, and spiritual/intellectual.
1. Physical – Physical privacy prevents intrusions into one’s physical space or solitude. This would include: preventing intimate acts or one’s body from being seen by others, preventing unwelcome searching of one’s personal possessions, preventing unauthorized access to one’s home or vehicle, medical privacy and the right to make medical decisions without governmental coercion.
2. Informational – Data privacy, referring to the evolving relationship between technology and the legal right to, or public expectation of privacy in the collection and sharing of data about one’s self. Informational asks how data relating to a person or persons is collected and stored. Informational privacy also covers financial privacy, information about a person’s financial transactions or their purchase history. Internet privacy controls what information is revealed to another over the Internet, who can access this and control it. Medical privacy allows ones medical records from being revealed to another.
3. Organization – The keeping of activities and secrets from being revealed to other organizations and individuals between government agencies, corporations or other organizations. For governments, they may be able to invoke ‘executive privilege’ to maintain classified information.
4. Spiritual and Intellectual – The freedom to practice religion and have ones own preference to spiritual choices.
Privacy laws are ever evolving due to technological advances and necessity. People, cultures, and nations also change their expectations regarding how much privacy a person is entitled to and what constitutes an invasion of privacy.
Steven Medvin is the Executive Director of SMP Advance Funding, LLC, which provides lawsuit funding to individuals who need a lawsuit loan for pending lawsuits. For more information please visit: http://www.smpadvance.com