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The Right to Privacy on a Constitutional Basis

Freedom and independence are the foundations of the modern world community. Despite their ancient history, for most countries, these principles were fully formed only in the last centuries. For American settlers, this approach was the only option to free themselves from the oppression of the British crown. That is why modern American culture is imbued with a spirit of freedom and independence. However, surprisingly, the US Constitution does not directly guarantee its citizens the right to privacy (Is There a ‘Right to Privacy Amendment). Partially similar freedoms are reflected in several amendments, but the lack of direct formulation allows for interpreting individual freedoms differently depending on the context. Simultaneously, with the development of modern technologies, more opportunities are created to violate personal life. This essay aims to investigate this issue and argue for introducing the right to be left alone on a constitutional basis.

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The need for such measures is a topic of constant discussion in political circles. This principle is especially clearly defended by the liberal parties, which is why the right to privacy is often associated with the progressive movement (Wuest 1). However, the freedom movement in the American context has been going on since the very founding of this state. American colonists defended their sovereignty from Britain during the War of Independence and the successive formation of various state foundations. Thus, the spirit of freedom and the desire to be left alone led, in its essence, to the creation of the United States.

However, this nature has evolved with the development of American society. Despite the struggle for freedom, many elements of society were not included in the Constitution’s first draft. For example, only with the help of the Bill of Rights, such essential points as freedom of choice of religion and the prohibition of arbitrary searches and arrests were established (Is There a ‘Right to Privacy Amendment). Moreover, even after the adoption of the first ten amendments, privacy was not considered a liberty requiring government protection at the time (Bodenhamer). Such mismatches between the spirit of independence and the absence of commonplace and prominent rights for modern people are due to the historical and social context. For example, during the first years, the founders of the United States did not think about the need to protect people from the arbitrariness of the power structures. However, when trying to build a more just and free society, this issue became more relevant, resulting in the corresponding amendments being adopted.

From this perspective, the Bill of Rights’ absence of a privacy amendment fits with the context of life at the time. Own space, in which a person could be isolated from the outside world of their own free will, was exclusively the prerogative of the rich (Bodenhamer). The poor did not even have the opportunity to remain completely isolated from each other due to the cramped living conditions. With industrialization and new technologies, this right gradually became more accessible. An increasing number of people believed that their home was their fortress (Bodenhamer). Simultaneously, the first laws establishing the boundaries of immunity began to be adopted, allowing, for example, to sue people who destroy a person’s reputation.

Thus, it can be noted that throughout American history, the concept of freedom has constantly changed, including new components. This movement has led to the adoption of many regulations, including abortion laws. However, all these projects remain at lower levels, not reaching the Constitution. As a result, it contains a list of specific restrictions and permits, which is relatively narrow. Because of this, many controversial issues arising in the evolution of society must be resolved in court. In recent years, technologies have evolved much faster than society, forming a massive space for collecting and using private information, which is not yet regulated by law (Is There a ‘Right to Privacy Amendment). While legislative structures deal with one innovative aspect, several new ones appear at once, which forms a significant backlog of laws from reality.

Moreover, new technological tools can be used for various purposes and by different people. In addition to intruders who steal personal data, modern legislation leaves enough loopholes for the state to penetrate citizens’ privacy. Some state and federal laws may even restrict the privacy rights of individuals if it protects particular state interests (Is There a ‘Right to Privacy Amendment). These pervasive trends are one of many reasons why privacy law has recently become even more actively discussed. This measure is intended to regulate relations between citizens and the state, which is in line with the original idea of ​​the founding fathers. When the United States was created, it placed a significant emphasis on minimal government intervention in people’s lives. At the moment, the intervention of various state structures is becoming more widespread while a person’s autonomy is decreasing.

Thus, presenting the right to privacy is necessary from several perspectives at once. First of all, introducing such a constitutional norm is part of the natural process of evolution of a free society. Several centuries ago, there was no point in protecting personal information, but the emergence of the press changed this situation. A similar situation is observed today, while technological progress creates new ways to interfere with personal life. Moreover, official structures have recently actively used these methods, which creates the need for a constitutional settlement of relations between individuals and the state. Finally, such actions correspond not only to modern trends but also to the spirit of the founding fathers, who tried to minimize the influence of the state on human life. Consequently, the right to privacy is a highly relevant topic that must be considered at the constitutional level to ensure society’s security and further evolution.

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Works Cited

Bodenhamer, David. Our Rights. Oxford University Press, 2007. Annenberg Classroom. Web.

“Is There a ‘Right to Privacy’ Amendment?” FindLaw. 2019, Web.

Wuest, Joanna. “A Conservative Right to Privacy: Legal, Ideological, and Coalitional Transformations in US Social Conservatism.” Law & Social Inquiry, 2021, pp. 1-29.

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