The right to privacy embodies the belief that a person’s private information should be free from public scrutiny and that we have a right to be left alone. As technology evolves, more and more of our personal information is in the hands of third parties. From e-commerce and e-mail, to smart phones and social media, advances in technology will continue to challenge our legal system and personal expectations of privacy.
It may come as a surprise that the Constitution of the United States does not specifically protect your right to privacy. In fact, state and federal laws can limit some individual privacy rights when there is a compelling government interest to do so. Protecting your rights starts with becoming familiar with the constitutional amendments, federal statutes and state laws designed to keep your private information private.
Constitutional Privacy Rights
Even though the right to privacy is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has found the several Amendments imply these rights:
As technology evolves, so do the rules governing the collection and use of private information. In the 2012 unanimous Supreme Court decision reviewing the constitutionality of warrantless searches of cell phones, the Court held that the personal information contained in cell phones and other handheld devices is just as worthy of protection as more traditional types of information and records.
Personal Information Protections
Civil Law Privacy Protection
When there’s an intrusion into your reasonable expectation of privacy, state laws provide a right of enforcement through civil tort law, allowing you to receive compensation. Although the specifics of these laws vary from state to state, the following four torts are based on the right to privacy:
Intrusion of Solitude
This form of invasion of privacy involves the interference with one’s right to solitude or seclusion. For example, if a person uses hidden cameras in your home or private office, this would be an intrusion into your seclusion.
Appropriation occurs when a person’s name, likeness, voice or other personal characteristic is used without permission for the benefit of another party. As an example, let’s say a company uses an actor to impersonate an NFL player for a television ad. If the player didn’t authorize the imitation, an appropriation occurs.
Public Disclosure of Private Facts
This tort defends against the unauthorized disclosure of details about a person’s private life that are not generally known. Generally, disclosure to one or two people does not constitute a public disclosure unless there is an implication that the information should be spread around.
An invasion of privacy can occur when the publicized information is misleading or somehow distorts the truth. The false light must be highly offensive to the average person and be published with knowledge or in reckless disregard of whether the information was false or would place the person in a false light.
Get a Review of Your Right to Privacy Claim
Enforcing your privacy rights can be complicated, and the law can vary based on where you live. Whether your personal information is being used in an unauthorized manner, or your right to be left alone was violated, an experienced attorney can help. Receive a claim review and stop the unnecessary stress and anguish caused by privacy invasions.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.