right of privacy: an overview

Distinct from the right of publicity protected by state common or statutory law, a broader right of privacy has been inferred in the Constitution. Although not explicity stated in the text of the Constitution, in 1890 then to be Justice Louis Brandeis extolled 'a right to be left alone.' This right has developed into a liberty of personal autonomy protected by the 14th amendment. The 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments also provide some protection of privacy, although in all cases the right is narrowly defined. The Constitutional right of privacy has developed alongside a statutory right of privacy which limits access to personal information. The Federal Trade Commission overwhelmingly enforces this statutory right of privacy, and the rise of privacy policies and privacy statements are evidence of its work. In all of its forms, however, the right of privacy must be balanced against the state's compelling interests. Such compelling interests include the promotion of public morality, protection of the individual's psychological health, and improving the quality of life. These distinct rights of privacy are examined separately on the following pages:

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Federal Material


Federal Judicial Decisions

State Material

State Judicial Decisions

Other References

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