The Right to Privacy: Concept Definition

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Topic: Sociology
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Though it is usually referred to as social animals and having the tendency to live in communities, people need personal privacy. Thus, according to the U.S. Constitution, every single citizen of the state is entitled to privacy based on the irrefutable rights that are provided to each U.S. resident since the day when they are born.

Constitutionally, three types of privacy are identified; these are privacy of beliefs, the privacy of the home, and privacy of the person and possessions (The Right of Privacy par. 2). Seeing that the very concept of privacy is not homogenous, defining the subject matter is a rather complicated task.

It should be noted that the concept of privacy has been altered significantly since the infamous tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001. Because of the terrorist threat, some of the elements of the right to privacy have been revisited and changed towards a more rigid set of standards. The specified change has narrowed the concept of privacy down to the security of personal data and surveillance thereof by the state government with no further disclosure of the private information.

One must admit, though, that the major changes, which the concept of the Right to Privacy has undergone since the notorious 9/11 tragedy, are still well justified. Naturally, the process of surveillance should have its limits, yet the present-day strategies still need to exist and be implemented so that the security of the U.S. citizens could be provided on the proper level.

The so-called “chilling effect” (Hughes 399) of the tragedy has led to the reconsideration of the right to privacy, leading to the creation of the Terrorist Surveillance Program (Hughes 400).

Likewise, the right to privacy is often questioned in the instances when the issue of crime and especially juvenile crime is being addressed. According to Joyce, it is essential to draw a line between the child’s right for privacy and the one of an adult: “(Joyce 115).

Moreover, Joyce makes it very clear that in the case of a court proceeding, the right for the child’s privacy should “be outweighed by the public interest in certain circumstances” (Joyce 114). Therefore, it can be assumed that the right to privacy should be interpreted as the right of an individual for nondisclosure of their personal data unless the disclosure of the data in question is crucial for the public interests.

One must admit that the specified definition is quite questionable in terms of judicial ethics. Indeed, from the perspective of non- maleficence, the disclosure of the personal information of the accused harms the latter in a rather obvious manner, exposing the accused to a range of threats. Nevertheless, the specified definition works, as it helps balance the needs of an individual and the needs of society.

The intrusion of NSA and the U.S. government into the lives of the American people also needs to be looked into. According to the latest researches on the subject matter, the rates of domestic surveillance of the U.S. government have grown significantly past decade due to Internet information analysis. For instance, 75% of the messages sent online are available to the NSA (Gross par. 1). While the specified changes in the provision of state security can be explained as the effect of the 9/11 shock, the issue in question still needs to be addressed.

Therefore, the right for privacy as a concept can be defined as the right of an individual to have their personal data secured from other individuals or corporate bodies unless the disclosure of the data in question prevents other parties involved form being harmed physically, emotionally, or in any other tangible manner (Beard 15).

Tough being admittedly vague, the definition in question works within the current legal framework, as it embraces every possible instance in which the right to one’s privacy is usually brought up. More importantly, the specified definition can be applied to people of all ages, from people in their early childhood to adults.

Defining the right to privacy is a rather complicated task, as the very concept has been altered significantly since the infamous 9/11 case. However, the basic components of the right to privacy remain basically the same; the idea of non-disclosure of personal data still being in the focus of the attention of the parties involved. No matter what shocks the American society might survive, the right to privacy must remain one of the basic rights of an individual, which are essential for the functioning of a democratic society.

However, in order to make sure that the safety of all the stakeholders involved is facilitated, it is crucial to make compromises and consider some of the requirements regarding personal data provision not as rights infringement, but as the means of reducing the threat of a possible security breach or even a terrorist attack. Nevertheless, certain boundaries have to be set; specifically, the issue of NSA spying needs to be addressed and ceased so that the U.S. citizens could enjoy their right to privacy fully.

Works Cited

Beard, Robert G. Our Right to Privacy – Hijacked by Government. New York, NY: Lulu.com, 2014. Print.

Gross, Doug. “Report: NSA Can See 75% of U.S. Web Messages.” CNN 21 Aug. 2013: n. pag.

Hughes, Sunny Skye. “US Domestic Surveillance after 9/11: An Analysis of the Chilling Effect on First Amendment Rights in Cases Filed against the Terrorist Surveillance Program.” Canadian Journal of Law and Society 27.3 (2012): 399–425.

Joyce, Niamh. “An Analysis of the Extent of the Juvenile Offender’s Right to Privacy: Is the Child’s Right to Privacy Circumvented by Public Interest?” European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice 19 (2011): 113–124.

The Right of Privacy. (2015)