response to bellow postThe right to privacy in the United States is inferred in the Constitution through the Fourth Amendment, which states that people have the right to be secure in their possessions

response to bellow post

The right to privacy in the United States is inferred in the Constitution through the Fourth Amendment, which states that people have the right to be secure in their possessions and free from search and seizure of their belongings unless probable cause, and a seizure warrant to go with probable cause, exist.  But does this extend to the right to have a private conversation?  I believe it does, but not specifically.  Obviously, the law makers of the world agree, because they have, over a period, enacted a few regulations to clarify our rights to private communications.

            The Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act are federal statutes securing the right of people to have access to records in the possession of agencies and departments of the Executive Branch of the government (Homeland Security, 2018).  There are a few exemptions to this, a few of them being access to classified information, access to information pertaining to actual or perceived threats to critical infrastructure, law enforcements records (to a degree), trade secrets, and the like.  Notably, it also protects information such as Social Security Numbers, home addresses and telephone numbers, and certain identifying information regarding Department employees (Homeland Security, 2018).  In addition, the Wiretap Act makes it a federal crime “to wiretap or to use a machine to capture the communications of others without court approval, unless one of the parties has given their prior consent” (Stevens, Doyle, 2003).  In turn, it is a federal crime to disclose information obtained by wiretapping or electronic eavesdropping, and the associated penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for no more than 5 years.  Furthermore, in 2006, Retired President Bush signed the Telephone Records and Privacy Act.  This act addressed fraudulent communications by implementing a jail time penalty of up to 10 years for “anyone who pretends to be someone else, or otherwise employs fraudulent tactics, to persuade phone companies to hand over what is supposed to be confidential data about customers’ calling habits” (Broache, 2007). At the time this was enacted, Hewlett-Packard had admitted it’s investigators used false pretenses to obtain the phone records of journalists in their efforts to isolate the source of boardroom media leaks; actions such as these are now criminal.

            Privacy is a big concern in America, more so in the last 20 years due to the Internet and the ever-increasing connectivity of systems which hold personal data (hospitals, law enforcement, banks, etc.).   One resource, Privacy Clearinghouse (https://www.privacyrights.org), offers free education using direct one-to-one assistance, educational publications, and their advocation for consumer-friendly policies (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, 2018).  This is an excellent source to learn about privacy related to banking and finance, credit and credit reports, data breaches, health, identity theft, social security numbers, and much more.  I am sure that as technology continues to boom, the United States will see even more policy, guidance, and laws enacted to protect it’s citizens.

EXAMPLE of someone response to above post 

Calvin Benjamin(Jul 25, 2018 10:04 AM)– Read by: Reply

Good morning, Michael. Excellent lead on your perspective on privacy and what the constitution states about it. I agree that the Constitution does not specifically state that privacy in communications are guaranteed, which is the reason why other laws have been put in place to aid the constitution in privacy rights. Specifically, the Telephone Records and Privacy Act of 2006, signed into law by Former President George W. Bush. The law was created to prohibit the obtaining of phone records from service providers (U.S. Congress, 2007). Law enforcement representatives are exempt from this request for investigative purposes. In addition, The Wiretap Act was established to protect individual or entity based communications from being intercepted or recorded by someone (Farkas, 2018). Under this Act, it is illegal to intercept or disclose information on anyone via wire, oral communication, or electronic communication. So, there are exemptions to the Wiretap Act, but without a court order or consent from the individual, even law enforcement can be violating the law. Both the Telephone Records and Privacy Act of 2006 and the Wiretap Act can be considered as supplements to the U.S Constitution on some parts of individual privacy.

References:

Farkas, B. (2018). How the wiretap act protects personal privacy. Retrieved from https://www.lawyers.com/legal-info/personal-injury/types-of-personal-injury-claims/wiretap-act-privacy.html.

U.S. Congress (2007). H.R.4709 – Telephone records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006. Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/109th-congress/house-bill/4709.

Leave a Reply