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Essay on What is Privacy?

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Privacy is an incredibly elusive concept, partly because no one can agree on what constitutes an invasion of privacy. One famous publication in the 1890 edition of the Harvard Law Review defines privacy as “...the right to be let alone” (Warren). While this suffices for a cursory look at the definition of privacy, a closer look reveals that it is still very vague (the latter portion of the journal reiterates this). Specifically, it does not address breach of privacy, a concept that is still disagreed upon today. There are many different interpretations as to what constitutes an invasion of privacy.
All humans have some desire for privacy, but people have different boundaries to what information about them should be private. Problems arise with these widely varying definitions. What one person may define as a casual curiosity, another may define as a blatant invasion of privacy. Often, these disagreements find themselves in court rooms, and have been subjects of some of the most controversial court cases ever.
The Fourth Amendment is the basis on which defendants of privacy base their arguments in legal battles. It guarantees that citizens will never be subject to “unreasonable searches and seizures”. The key word is unreasonable; that is, indiscriminate snooping on another person's personal information. Many court cases have hinged their decisions on interpretations of the Fourth Amendment.
One case where the the Fourth Amendment was used was in Katz v. United States. In 1967, a man by the name of Charles Katz used a public payphone in California to place bets in Miami and Boston. As a result, he was convicted of illegal gambling. However, the authorities had collected this information about him by placing an electronic ...


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... Internet, some privacy should be expected as long as there is no illegal activity, but it is never guaranteed.

Works Cited
Bourke v. Nissan. Second Appellate District Court of the California Courts of Appeal. 26 July 1993. Print.
Gelman, Lauren. "Online Posting of Image of Streisand Estate Upheld by Court." Center for Internet and Society 1.7 (2003). Web.
Kasper, Debbie V.S. "The Evolution (Or Devolution) of Privacy." Sociological Forum 20.1 (2005): 69- 92. JSTOR. Web. 21 Feb. 2010.
Katz v. United States. Supreme Court. 18 Dec. 1967. Print.
Kyllo v. United States. Supreme Court. 11 June 2001. Print.
Steele, Lisa J. "The View From on High: Satellite Remote Sensing Technology and the Fourth Amendment." Berkely Technology Law Journal 2nd ser. 6.6 (1991). Print.
Warren, Samuel, and Louis Brandeis. "The Right to Privacy." Harvard Law Review 4.5 (1890). Print.


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