President Obama, to his credit, last week called for a “privacy bill of rights” that would let people keep their online data from being used to track and barrage them with special pleading — otherwise known as propaganda. Should that bill be passed — and it may have a long march to approval — it will only be a first step in keeping more social media and search engine users from going over the privacy-loss cliff.
We all have a certain right to privacy, although that right isn’t specifically spelled out in the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment, often quoted as protecting privacy rights, only alludes to privacy in declaring that one’s home should be inviolate unless a warrant has been issued to allow searches. The courts have held generally that the right to privacy exists not only in one’s home, but travels with a person outside his or her dwelling.
The California Constitution was amended in 1972 to explicitly include privacy as an inalienable right. The Supreme Court of California requires strict scrutiny of any practice that tends to violate or hamper this inalienable right to privacy, says the website Ask a Lawyer Online Now.
Of course, there are limits to the right of privacy. When you go to a public place, you no longer are entitled to the same privacy you might enjoy in your home. By going to the grocery store, for example, one thrusts oneself among others. If one pays with a credit card, the act of recording that payment opens one up to all kinds of snooping.
Do you use one of those rewards cards at the stores where you shop? When you submit those cards in return for a discount on items purchased, you broadcast to an unbelievable degree what you just bought. And then there’s online shopping. If you think that’s private, good luck.
In many cases, we already may have given our privacy away. Will a new law be able to recover it for us.