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Privacy - Constitutional Law, Protecting Your Privacy, Common Law, Legislation, Do Dna Databases Violate Privacy?

people article brandeis century

In CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, the right of people to make personal decisions regarding intimate matters; under the COMMON LAW, the right of people to lead their lives in a manner that is reasonably secluded from public scrutiny, whether such scrutiny comes from a neighbor's prying eyes, an investigator's eavesdropping ears, or a news photographer's intrusive camera; and in statutory law, the right of people to be free from unwarranted drug testing and ELECTRONIC SURVEILLANCE .

The origins of the right to privacy can be traced to the nineteenth century. In 1890, Samuel D. Warren and LOUIS D. BRANDEIS published "The Right to Privacy," an influential article that postulated a general common-law right of privacy. Before the publication of this article, no U.S. court had expressly recognized such a legal right. Since the publication of the article, courts have relied on it in hundreds of cases presenting a range of privacy issues.

In OLMSTEAD V. UNITED STATES, 277 U.S. 438, 48 S. Ct. 564, 72 L. Ed. 944 (1928), Brandeis, then a Supreme Court justice, articulated a general constitutional right "to be let alone," which he described as the most comprehensive and valued right of civilized people. For the next half century, the right to privacy gradually evolved. Today, every jurisdiction in the country recognizes some form of constitutional, common-law, or statutory right to privacy.

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