What is “Personal Privacy”?

Privacy is considered one of the fundamental rights of humans. It protects our dignity and values. The most basic definition of privacy is a person’s right to control any and all of their personal information. Each individual has the right to determine how their personal information is released to others. The US Constitution does not directly provide the right to personal privacy, but the Supreme Courts have made decisions which set precedents that have created this right.

The Constitution and Privacy

Even though the Constitution does not directly mention privacy issues, there are two amendments that cover privacy to some extent. The Fourth Amendment does not allow police, governmental authorities or officials to search personal property without probable cause. Officials must have enough information or evidence to believe an individual was involved in a crime before they can search property. Other Amendments help protect individual’s personal rights to their bodies. For instance, each person can make decisions about their bodies and their private lives without worrying about government interference. The 14th amendment also protects the privacy of decisions made about one’s family, motherhood, marriage, child rearing and procreation.

Basic Areas of Privacy

Privacy is a very broad subject matter but it can be divided into these four basic categories:

  • Information Privacy
  • Bodily Privacy
  • Communication Privacy
  • Territorial Privacy

Information privacy involves how personal data is collected, used, stored and shared. Bodily privacy has to do with protecting individual’s body. This can include health privacy issues and important topics like genetic testing or drug testing. Communication privacy covers all forms of communication such as phone calls, email, and postal mail. And territorial privacy sets limits on how others can intrude into an individual’s different environments. For instance, you are protected in your own home as well as the workplace.