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The Right to Privacy is the concept that protects personal information from public scrutiny. In most cases, the statutory law protects the right to privacy. In addition, there is always balancing of the right to privacy against the compelling interests within the state. In the constitution, the Right to Privacy is not mention; however, the Supreme Court in several accounts has cited that different amendments create such right. The right to privacy means the right to personal autonomy or choosing whether to engage in some activities or experiences. Within the U.S Constitution, various amendments with varying level of success determine the right to personal autonomy. The First Amendment focuses on the privacy of beliefs; The Third Amendment protects home privacy when used in housing soldiers; The Fourth Amendment protects from unreasonable searches. The Fifth Amendments focuses of self-discrimination and protection of personal information; and The Ninth Amendment highlights that “the enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage other rights retained by the people.”
The questions on whether the Constitution protects privacy in manners not expressly provided within the Bill of Rights continue to be controversial. The Fourth Amendment seems to protect Americans from the “unreasonable searches and seizures” by the state; however, there have variation of interpretation of “unreasonable” in the Supreme Court over time. Besides, some searches require warrants while others do not. With the advent of technology and internet, there are many personal information shared over the social media with most people arguing that privacy has become a myth. After the occurrence of 9/11 attach, the Congress managed to pass laws that allow accessing of personal information especially on the internet while investigating terrorism cases. To some extent, these laws violate the privacy rights of the Americans.
The Fourth Amendment stops the police and various government agencies from searching the property of people or people without any “probable cause” to believe that they might have committed the crime. Other amendments also protect people’s freedom of making certain decisions regarding their body and private lives without interferences from the state including the public schools. However, it is important to note that American do not have complete right to privacy while in school. Considering that government run the public schools, obedience to the Constitution is inevitable. The students have fewer privacy rights in school compared to outside. Within such setups, right to privacy violation include searching or planting the undercover agents to act as spies. In most cases, these activities result in violation of students rights.
Since the 9/11 attack, the National Security Agency (NSA) embarked on collection of massive amount of telephone and internet data as its counterterrorism strategy; nonetheless, there have been responses and ranging from fear to outrage. Currently, there is division among the Americans on whether NSA’s surveillance is acceptable or not as most people citing that it is important. People tend to vary in feeling of privacy and wariness regarding the inquisitiveness of other people. The most complicating issue is that NSA surveillance form the latest in the long line of legal battle that occurs among the Americans between security and privacy. Investigations from the Guardian, the British newspaper, reveal that NSA has been collecting daily call logs of many customers from Verizon business networks. These activities negatively impact businesses such as Verizon considering the level at which most Americans value right to privacy. Through NSA’s PRISM program, the agency tracts online activities especially for the foreign nationals; however, the American citizens interacting with the foreigners could be swept up through gathering of such information.
The age could play important role in the manner in which people view government surveillance. Depending on the frequency and wide use of the social media sites, the idea of the people on privacy might be different from those not using at all. With the Americans divided on the privacy issues, there is no universal concept of private among them. Therefore, if the Americans do not agree on whether the metadata from cell phone and internet activities is private or public, then it is unlikely that they would come to a consensus that tracking their the activities for counterterrorism measures infringes their privacy rights. As required by the U.S Constitution, the NSA has the ability of collecting telephone and internet data from the foreigners without the warrants as established by the Fourth Amendment. Despite the claim that NSA cites to be transparent in collection of information, research on the agency reveals that there thousands of privacy violations against the Americans.
Generally, it is important to uphold the constitution irrespective of the circumstance as it is the legal document that guides the land and no one is above it. Even though the Constitution lacks clauses on the rights to privacy, various amendments on the Constitution highlight that Americans have to privacy. Through tapping the cell phone data and internet activities, the NSA violates the rights to privacy of most Americans. However, the Americans are divided on the issues as most people consider the activity by NSA to appropriate.