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The Right to Privacy

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Can the police strip-search a woman who has been arrested for a minor traffic violation? Can a magazine publish an embarrassing photo of you without your permission? Does your boss have the right to read your email? Can a company monitor its employees' off-the-job lifestyles--and fire those who drink, smoke, or live with a partner of the same sex? Although the word privacy Can the police strip-search a woman who has been arrested for a minor traffic violation? Can a magazine publish an embarrassing photo of you without your permission? Does your boss have the right to read your email? Can a company monitor its employees' off-the-job lifestyles--and fire those who drink, smoke, or live with a partner of the same sex? Although the word privacy does not appear in the Constitution, most of us believe that we have an inalienable right to be left alone. Yet in arenas that range from the battlefield of abortion to the information highway, privacy is under siege. In this eye-opening and sometimes hair-raising book, Alderman and Kennedy survey hundreds of recent cases in which ordinary citizens have come up against the intrusions of government, businesses, the news media, and their own neighbors. At once shocking and instructive, up-to-date and rich in historical perspective, The Right to Private is an invaluable guide to one of the most charged issues of our time. "Anyone hoping to understand the sometimes precarious state of privacy in modern America should start by reading this book."--Washington Post Book World "Skillfully weaves together unfamiliar, dramatic case histories...a book with impressive breadth."--Time


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Can the police strip-search a woman who has been arrested for a minor traffic violation? Can a magazine publish an embarrassing photo of you without your permission? Does your boss have the right to read your email? Can a company monitor its employees' off-the-job lifestyles--and fire those who drink, smoke, or live with a partner of the same sex? Although the word privacy Can the police strip-search a woman who has been arrested for a minor traffic violation? Can a magazine publish an embarrassing photo of you without your permission? Does your boss have the right to read your email? Can a company monitor its employees' off-the-job lifestyles--and fire those who drink, smoke, or live with a partner of the same sex? Although the word privacy does not appear in the Constitution, most of us believe that we have an inalienable right to be left alone. Yet in arenas that range from the battlefield of abortion to the information highway, privacy is under siege. In this eye-opening and sometimes hair-raising book, Alderman and Kennedy survey hundreds of recent cases in which ordinary citizens have come up against the intrusions of government, businesses, the news media, and their own neighbors. At once shocking and instructive, up-to-date and rich in historical perspective, The Right to Private is an invaluable guide to one of the most charged issues of our time. "Anyone hoping to understand the sometimes precarious state of privacy in modern America should start by reading this book."--Washington Post Book World "Skillfully weaves together unfamiliar, dramatic case histories...a book with impressive breadth."--Time

30 review for The Right to Privacy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Antigone

    Apart from the fact that I'm central to my own life, and somewhat of a principal performer therein, my importance to the larger world is relatively negligible. No one's going to hang out in a nearby tree waiting for my lover to appear, or press his pedal to the metal to tail my very old SUV. My most valuable asset is probably my brain, and it's never busy masterminding clever urban crime. I haven't run for office, or killed the campaign of anyone who has. Notorious is a movie I saw once. The red Apart from the fact that I'm central to my own life, and somewhat of a principal performer therein, my importance to the larger world is relatively negligible. No one's going to hang out in a nearby tree waiting for my lover to appear, or press his pedal to the metal to tail my very old SUV. My most valuable asset is probably my brain, and it's never busy masterminding clever urban crime. I haven't run for office, or killed the campaign of anyone who has. Notorious is a movie I saw once. The red carpet is something I decided against for the floor in the dining room. My fifteen minutes of fame remain pending. I don't make the papers. I make the bed. So privacy, in this sense, is plentiful for me. As a wheel it didn't squeak and so it received very little attention. Then came the Internet. And cell phones. And cell phones with cameras. And the hacking of accounts. And spyware. And You Tube. And Google Earth. And traffic cams. And nanny cams. And Big Brother isn't just the government, he's all your next door neighbors. I was travelling recently and chanced upon a report of complaints from several commercial pilots flying in and out of JFK. It seems they'd had a number of near-misses with unmanned drones. Drones in the airspace of JFK. Okay, what? What? My understanding of privacy and the protection I'm afforded under the law was, at best, limited. I knew I didn't possess a designated "right" to privacy; that this wasn't a constitutional guarantee. But I had something. Some sort of rule that, most of the time, guarded my moments of solitude and autonomy, and prevented certain forms of overreaching intrusion. What that rule was, I could not have said (although I knew elements of it were being constantly disputed). It seemed time to find out. So I did what all voracious readers do, I went looking for a book. Alderman and Kennedy produced this volume in 1995. It is not the most current work available, but that was not my concern. I wanted a basic explanation of the law in terminology I could comprehend - bonus points if it could keep me interested enough to plow through without drifting off to mentally compose a grocery list. Happily, this did the trick. The material is eye-opening. The authors cover the weightier arenas of search-and-seizure, abortion, the right to die, etc., and then move on to some particularly evocative incidents of exposure. What, for example, are your options as an adopted child when your biological parents decide to hunt you down after twenty years? What recourse do you have upon discovering someone's drilled a peephole in the wall of your hotel room? When a potential employer insists you take a psychological exam? When your sexual orientation becomes an issue on the job? Actual cases are explored, rulings examined, legislation deciphered. The Law and Order-style format makes it a dramatic and accessible read; the plain speech used to convey the legalities cuts through much of the complexity. Privacy is an evolving concept in this continuously shrinking world. I'm not sure we'll ever have a firm piece of legislation we can turn to in every circumstance, but it's worth being aware of what we do possess and why. Here is a tool to that end.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nicko

    In Chicago, a law dating from 1952 mandated that all women arrested there, no matter how trivial their crime, *must* be strip searched by prison matrons. Not only were most of the matrons brutal in carrying out this law, but male officers routinely secretly watched this degrading, humiliating, unconstitutional action via video camera--effectively turning every Chicago police station into a producer of rape pornography for the prurient delectation of its male staff. Tragically, it was not until t In Chicago, a law dating from 1952 mandated that all women arrested there, no matter how trivial their crime, *must* be strip searched by prison matrons. Not only were most of the matrons brutal in carrying out this law, but male officers routinely secretly watched this degrading, humiliating, unconstitutional action via video camera--effectively turning every Chicago police station into a producer of rape pornography for the prurient delectation of its male staff. Tragically, it was not until the early 1980's that, with the assistance of the ACLU, this law was challenged in court by a handful of the thousands of women it had victimized, resulting in the state appellate court declaring it unconstitutional. This and many other horrifying examples of privacy abuses in this country in the areas of law enforcement, the workplace and the press, among others, are detailed in The Right to Privacy. Alderman and Kennedy present shocking stories of ordinary citizens besieged by privacy violations in a non-sensational, clear and readable style that is highly accessible to ordinary people. At the same time, they give references to the case law pertinent to each situation, making this book useful for legal professionals as well. In the wake of the events of 9/11 and currently pending legislature in Congress aimed at wholesale violations of the Fourth Amendment in the name of "public safety," a well-written, accurate book on privacy such as this one has become even more relevant than it was when it was written six years ago. I highly recommend it to everyone concerned with human rights--hopefully, every citizen in this country.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This was one of the best books I've ever read. I read it for the first time in college - and it started my obsession with privacy. I became a junkie for articles, books and court cases revolving around our personal privacy. The stories in this book are harrowing, and I read this 20 years ago. I want to reread it when I have time to see how it's aged. We have less privacy now than ever and I'm interested to see the comparisons. This was one of the best books I've ever read. I read it for the first time in college - and it started my obsession with privacy. I became a junkie for articles, books and court cases revolving around our personal privacy. The stories in this book are harrowing, and I read this 20 years ago. I want to reread it when I have time to see how it's aged. We have less privacy now than ever and I'm interested to see the comparisons.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jarome

    When honorable, yet powerful, humble, yet strong women have something to say, I usually listen. This is pure truth and well said. Filed in the library of my mind I feel like I've taken a class on law, history and psychology taught by Caroline Kennedy herself. For these authors to take a second and memorialize where we've come, will hopefully help the next generation not make the same mistakes. When honorable, yet powerful, humble, yet strong women have something to say, I usually listen. This is pure truth and well said. Filed in the library of my mind I feel like I've taken a class on law, history and psychology taught by Caroline Kennedy herself. For these authors to take a second and memorialize where we've come, will hopefully help the next generation not make the same mistakes.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    "Now the right to life has come to mean the right to enjoy life, -- the right to be let alone." ~ Louis Brandeis This is a collection of anecdotes on the histories of cases, split up into different key categories, that shape the right to privacy. This is a right, which despite a collective agreement among most Americans should exist, doesn't really exist in any sense in the constitution. It was the collective work of many judges, over a century, that has given us this right. After reading the acc "Now the right to life has come to mean the right to enjoy life, -- the right to be let alone." ~ Louis Brandeis This is a collection of anecdotes on the histories of cases, split up into different key categories, that shape the right to privacy. This is a right, which despite a collective agreement among most Americans should exist, doesn't really exist in any sense in the constitution. It was the collective work of many judges, over a century, that has given us this right. After reading the accounts, knowing that these were just the cases prosecuted, I realized that I took this right for granted myself. There are some torts that have been created to protect our privacy by congress but by in large it has been the work of judges that have given us this right. There are many cases that stood out to me that hammered home the need for privacy to be a fundamental right but Joan W v . City of Chicago is the one that really stood out to me. I think Ellen agreed because she put it towards the front of the book. It was where a young Chicago nurse was strip searched, despite only having been brought in for unpaid parking tickets and the policemen in question did so in a such a humiliating way that it made my skin crawl. Telling her to spread her pussy and other vulgar things. The case uncovered a systematic unfairness to the City of Chicago's policy of strip searches. Women were told to strip completely naked, where every crevice of their bodies were searched meticulously while men kept all their close on and got a gentle pat down. The City of Chicago argued that this was fair because women had vaginas, where they could hide things and they did it to all women so it was fair. Suffice to say that's bullshit and I mean that case for me set the tone for the rest of the book. It's clear from reading of these anecdotes of important cases which shaped the idea of this right that the government has, by in large, made laws that are just bad in this area. There's no other way to put it. There are strict textualists today who do not believe we should read the constitution so broadly that this is the role of a legislature. Maybe so, but legislatures have shown themselves unable to deal with this problem and bad in their own right. With 9/11 and the loss of the great consensus the idea of adding an amendment or set of amendments to deal with this issue seem unreasonable. I really recommend reading this book if you're looking at learning more about a key idea which has shaped the collective consciousness for the past century.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    It's tempting, and easy, to think of law and the constitution as rock solid and unambiguous. It makes this book more fascinating in realizing the fluidity of interpretation that has been applied to aspects of the constitution. Very interesting book. It's tempting, and easy, to think of law and the constitution as rock solid and unambiguous. It makes this book more fascinating in realizing the fluidity of interpretation that has been applied to aspects of the constitution. Very interesting book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    This book was quite interesting. It is dated since it was published in 1995, but it still helps with the "Right to Privacy" dilemma. Since the word "privacy" does not appear in the Constitution, each state is left to determine what the right to privacy is, it seems. There is so much inconsistency, As i understand it, no state can make what is in the Constitution less, but they can make things more strict. So, abortions are legal in every State, but each state can make it almost impossible to get This book was quite interesting. It is dated since it was published in 1995, but it still helps with the "Right to Privacy" dilemma. Since the word "privacy" does not appear in the Constitution, each state is left to determine what the right to privacy is, it seems. There is so much inconsistency, As i understand it, no state can make what is in the Constitution less, but they can make things more strict. So, abortions are legal in every State, but each state can make it almost impossible to get one by making the regulations in the state more strict. It was a disturbing book because the interpretations of the Constitution are so different, as well as the state's laws. The law is translated into human experiences in the book and raise many issues in a way that can be understood by a lay person.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Inggita

    I thought Media and the Law will not be a favorite course - it's like being reminded of the unsexy part of the industry and our passion. But as this book, the required reading of the course reflects the complicated relations between stakeholders in the world that the media industry depicts and covers, us readers will never be the same. there's no right or wrong answer, each of the case is a delicate interplay between a community sense of justice, human dignity, and practical solution. And foreig I thought Media and the Law will not be a favorite course - it's like being reminded of the unsexy part of the industry and our passion. But as this book, the required reading of the course reflects the complicated relations between stakeholders in the world that the media industry depicts and covers, us readers will never be the same. there's no right or wrong answer, each of the case is a delicate interplay between a community sense of justice, human dignity, and practical solution. And foreign students like us will think, wow, then we go back home and it's another jungle to cover by another book like this...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    Also, one of my favorites. Goes through some actual cases and interpretations by the courts. It discusses what WE think our right to privacy is and how the courts see society's right to privacy (since it does not actual state in the constitution what OUR rights are in reference to privacy). It would be a great follow-up to this book to have a 2nd book discussing and giving some additional, more recent cases and the courts interpretation, given the Bush administrations views on a persons right to Also, one of my favorites. Goes through some actual cases and interpretations by the courts. It discusses what WE think our right to privacy is and how the courts see society's right to privacy (since it does not actual state in the constitution what OUR rights are in reference to privacy). It would be a great follow-up to this book to have a 2nd book discussing and giving some additional, more recent cases and the courts interpretation, given the Bush administrations views on a persons right to privacy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    For those people who aren't super familiar with legal concepts surrounding the right to privacy, this lays out a lot of complex information in a clear, simple, and engaging way. I think it's a good selection of cases, including a few that may have been passed over even by the lawyers and law students out there. Privacy 101 without the media hype. For those people who aren't super familiar with legal concepts surrounding the right to privacy, this lays out a lot of complex information in a clear, simple, and engaging way. I think it's a good selection of cases, including a few that may have been passed over even by the lawyers and law students out there. Privacy 101 without the media hype.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Angie

    I just unpacked this book too and I remembered loving it. I don't always agree with Caroline Kennedy's political views, however I wholeheartedly agreed with much of what she shared in this book. The book shares many small stories and vignettes of examples of our privacy at risk. Great book and recommend to all. I just unpacked this book too and I remembered loving it. I don't always agree with Caroline Kennedy's political views, however I wholeheartedly agreed with much of what she shared in this book. The book shares many small stories and vignettes of examples of our privacy at risk. Great book and recommend to all.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Courtney Stirrat

    While certainly not a scholarly analysis of the various aspects and treatments of a constitutional and common law right to privacy, it is a great read for a broad perspective. I read it prior to law school and was both entertained and fascinated.

  13. 5 out of 5

    James Cooper

    Great, informative, summer reading. Who would have thought a book on law would have read this quickly? Don't know that much about Ellen Alderman but love, love Caroline Kennedy! Will look forward to obtaining and reading their 1st book!! Great, informative, summer reading. Who would have thought a book on law would have read this quickly? Don't know that much about Ellen Alderman but love, love Caroline Kennedy! Will look forward to obtaining and reading their 1st book!!

  14. 4 out of 5

    B. Hallward

    A very good survey of the development of a constitutional right to privacy, covering strip searches, reproductive freedom and right-to-die issues by looking at important cases. A great strength of this book is that it isn't polemical, but a fair-minded look at a controversial subject. A very good survey of the development of a constitutional right to privacy, covering strip searches, reproductive freedom and right-to-die issues by looking at important cases. A great strength of this book is that it isn't polemical, but a fair-minded look at a controversial subject.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Dave Peticolas

    A history of the court cases which have shaped our right to privacy. A good and sometimes scary read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

    A great, easily accessible primer on one of the most contested rights in America today.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Andie

    It's fascinating to see what you can and can't keep private in this country! It's fascinating to see what you can and can't keep private in this country!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Alden

    http://www.bookpage.com/9604bp/nonfic... http://www.bookpage.com/9604bp/nonfic...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    I've started reading this book twice. If I don't make it through it this time, I'm giving up. I've started reading this book twice. If I don't make it through it this time, I'm giving up.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    loved it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    L C

    My favorite book-signing :)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marti Garlett

    Quite a shocking, if not horrifying, treatise on how in a democracy like ours the police state still rules.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cws

    323.44

  24. 4 out of 5

    John

    nonfiction,ethics,privacy

  25. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    This text would have been excellent in a pre-Patriot Act world. It still provides excellent examples for classroom discussion, though.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rick

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mary Gerak

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ray

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