What are Privacy Rights?

Felicia Dye

Privacy rights are designed to protect individuals from the invasive behaviors of others. Many governments throughout the world take the right to privacy very seriously. Although the exact protections offered vary from one place to another there are many areas of life affected by privacy rights or the absence of them. These include the disclosure of medical information and the trespass of private property.

The Constitution does not specifically address privacy rights, but they are said to be implied.
The Constitution does not specifically address privacy rights, but they are said to be implied.

Privacy rights in the United States (US) are often said to be recognized by the Constitution. Actually, there is not a section of the Constitution that specifically entitles any American to broad privacy rights. It has been concluded, however, that the design and wording suggest that this was the intention of the country's founders.

In the US, both the federal government and state governments put a lot of effort into providing protections against a wide array of privacy invasions. These laws tend to offer protection from invasion by government, family, or other individuals. These rights are commonly extended to all individuals, regardless of citizenship. An instance when the law tends not to protect property rights is when an individual is deceased.

Having and maintaining private property is one of the major categories of privacy rights. It is generally considered unlawful for a person to access, occupy, or remain on land that is not his when it is against the will of the property owner. Many people are not fully aware of the extent to which these protections can reach. For example, a person's privacy can be invaded on private property even if he is not the owner. The logic behind this protection is that people often choose to occupy areas with the expectation of privacy and allowing others to take it away is an unnecessary invasion.

Another important category of privacy rights are those that protect against the disclosure of information that is generally considered personal. This can include medical records, financial information, and identifying information, such as Social Security numbers. The law generally recognizes more benefits in extending these protections to individuals than allowing other individuals to intrude upon them.

While there are many laws that prohibit certain behaviors for the sake of privacy, there are still many issues that arise. For example, the advent of the Internet poses many threats to privacy rights and these issues are often more difficult to handle. Questions also tend to be raised regarding the amount of privacy that should be allotted to public officials.

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