Free The Limits of Privacy Essay Sample

All the cultures around the world appreciate the concept of privacy from corporations as well as government. In a poll, conducted by Harris among the American citizens approximately 79 percent appreciated the need of controlling individual information. Another 69 percent found it prudent to control pieces of information to be collected from them. In overall, human beings cherish having more of their privacy. This argument is false since none if not a few individuals are willing to pay, for their privacy to be protected

Privacy is good, but it should be weighed regularly against other goods. In a hospital emergency ward, a young child with blood spot on his back and forehead arrives for treatment. After an X-ray examination, it reveals that her spinal and skull have minor fragments. The hospital staff will suspect the parent for child abuse and an interrogation, which leads to privacy-violating questions, is inevitable. The parent will not refuse the reexamination because her child well being takes precedence.  

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Even people who are conscious about their privacy are aware that their daily activities leave trails of their secrets, for instance the use of debit and credit cards tells of things done at different locations. This implies that there are several values that take precedence or trump over privacy. This should not call for privacy disrespect, but recognition of it as a personal value that we all need to respect. Individuals should, therefore, be willing to sacrifice their privacy for public safety.

A recent creation concerning privacy is that it is a constitutional right that has its origin in the reproductive rights in the constitution, such rights as, a right to abortion or a right of legally married couples to use contraceptives. The conception of privacy is stipulated clearly in the Fourth Amendment of United States constitution. The Fourth Amendment protects the citizens from any unreasonable searches by the government. My concern is on the word searches because privacy may be defined as, a right to secrete from audibility and view certain parts of our thoughts, conducts and emotions. However, if a criminal secrete a harmful weapon and relevant authorities discovers it, the privacy of the criminal is not to be violated since he had no right over the weapon. In addition, the right of privacy as stipulated in the Fourth Amendment is limited in the sense that it clearly and strongly provides a foundation for acts that are of immense importance to the community such as safety from terrorists.

The searches for security reasons are regarded legitimate, and in any case, such searches will not violate privacy of an individual. Privacy can also be sacrificed if its contribution to the safety of the public is considerable. For instance, many people undergo luggage and body search in the Airports before they board as airplane. The searches are by hand and machines, yet they are not suspects or there is no evidence that gives an indication of them posing any danger to the members of the public. To most people, courts and others the searches are considered reasonable since the intrusion is negligible while the contribution to public safety is considerable.

Privacy can also be sacrificed when there is a change of conditions. When SARS rocketed across national territories, authorities in different countries especially in Canada requested 10-day quarantine for those infected; this amounted to a house arrest. Under such circumstances, restriction of movement is considered reasonable. On the other hand, after the 9/11 terrorist attack in United States measures such as “roving surveillance authority” was introduced. This authorized the government through a court order to wiretap instruments of a suspected individual. The other measure is “sneak and peak” legislation, which permits the search of a homeowner without a notice. This new measures are a violation of privacy, but they are necessary for public safety.

Recently there is decry for a decline in individual privacy as evident by titles such as “the surveillance society” and “privacy is dead.” In fact, privacy is being accorded maximum protection than ever before. This is evident by changes in law as well as in technology. Technology has resulted in development of increased means of surveillance, such as satellites, cameras, heat sensors, email tracing orders and wiretaps. Such developments are a profit to public authorities since they can track the movements of an individual, their messages or goods this have not only increased attacks on privacy but increase in means of defense. On the other hand, high power encryption is the latest technological development that is privacy enhancing.

The hyper-encryption technologies have made privacy unprecedented. Even if authorities have all the devices such as the NSA and the CIA, it is difficult for them to break an encrypted message. Other technologies include access and audit trails, which can record the identity of any person accessing files; they are used to establish whether a third party accessed the information.

On the other hand, law is on the up-front in protecting privacy in relation to private sector behavior. Many private firms maintain data for businesses and consumers, which originate from both private and public sectors, providing the organization with the necessary information to generate mailing lists, address and telephone information among others about potential customers. However, laws were legislated that limit the information to be collected and how such information is used. Other similar legislation is the medical privacy regulations.


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