The right to privacy is a concept that is referred to in the Constitution, but not necessarily mentioned specifically. When the Constitution was written in 1890, it was more of a “right to be left alone” than a “right to privacy.” However, the 14th amendment has lent itself to protecting the right to maintain personal autonomy. There are also three other amendments, the 1st, 4th and 5th, that provide protection of one’s privacy. But privacy is not defined specifically in any of these important amendments. The constitutional right of privacy has developed over time.

Right to Privacy and Access to Personal Information

Over the years, the right of privacy has changed so that it protects individuals and gives them the power to choose what types of personal information may be collected as well as how that data is to be used. More recently, as online services have grown to be such a large part of our lives, there is a lot more gathering of personal information on a regular basis. Websites can use “cookies” to or forms to collect a variety of personal information from site visitors. Online and offline sources may collect information such as:

  • Legal Name
  • Physical address
  • Electronic address
  • Demographic information
  • Social security number
  • IP address
  • Financial data

In most cases, these types of information are used for marketing purposes. However, the government and financial institutions can collect a variety of personal information about individuals too.

Managing Personal Information

Some people don’t seem to be too worried about their personal information being collected and stored. But there is cause for concern since there is such a broad threat of identity theft and fraud today. These fraudulent and damaging practices are carried out though the use of persona information. For this reason, there has been more attention given to legislation which works to protect individual privacy. The goal is to give each person more power over how their personal information is collected, stored and used. In most cases, individuals now have the right to opt-out if they do not feel a site or business is safe.