Privacy, when do we draw the line?

According to Lewis in Freedom for the Thought That We Hate, “The interest of privacy was first authoritatively weighed against the First Ammendment’s guarantee of free expression by the Supreme Court in 1967, in the case of Time, Inc V. Hill. In summary, The Hills and their children were kept hostage in their home by convicts and after the convicts left they were caught.” The press covered the story intensely, to the distress of especially Mrs. Hill. It got to the point where the family moved to Connecticut to escape publicity and secure the obscurity of a normal life. Two years later a play called The Desperate Hours opened on Broadway that was eerily similar to the unfortunate situation that the Hills had to endure, except with more brutality, sexual threats and general menace. The play was different than their situation, but Life magazine doing a feature on the opening of the play, photographed the actors in the former home of the Hills and described it as a reenactment of what had happened. The Life story was devastating to the Hill family and they sued Time, Inc. saying that they violated their family claiming false horrors that they had not experienced. Mr. Hill ultimately won damages for $30,000.

Privacy law embraces four different concepts such as false light privacy, which was the main argument for Time Inc. V. Hill. This law describes cases in which there are errors but no damage to reputation, as there is in libel.

The other three are intrusion of solitude, appropriation of name or likeness and public disclosure of private facts. Privacy is a created right that wasn’t specifically written about in the constitution, but added to different amendments so that the law can regulate.

With the ever advancing realm of social media and technology, life is no longer private. Even if you wanted to keep your life and information private, it’s almost impossible to do so when the people surrounding you don’t have a shared concept of what that is. In this age, people are overly eager to share personal information, so it makes it hard to believe that people are concerned about privacy. Yet there are still many conversations going on about it, especially surrounding the topic of data mining.

In the above article, Target is referenced as being renowned in the retail world for data collection and while people are not so much concerned with posting about their personal lives on social media, they are however, concerned with companies gaining data and information about them through website visits surveys, etc.

I think that the idea of a breach in privacy is more so concerning to people when it is down to them by someone else or unknowingly as opposed to them actively making the decision themselves.

One thought on “Privacy, when do we draw the line?

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  1. The internet does indeed pose important privacy issues. I do wish to clarify however, that although the Hills won an initial judgment in the case, the Supreme Court overturned the decision. The importance of the case is that when privacy came into conflict with freedom of the press, privacy lost. It is a precedent that is both understandable and concerning. It is, however, also different than the Target case you reference in that Target cannot claim a First Amendment protection and can (and will ) be sued for the data breach.


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