BUSINESS 112 – Essay 2 Privacy and the Age
Subject: Business / General Business
Privacy and the Age of the Internet
Boatright’s presentation on privacy, pages 177 through 121, seems subject to more than a little
disagreement. To suggest that the concept of privacy can only be traced back to the late 19th
Century sounds like a case of form swallowing substance. The Fourth Amendment provides:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…”
If not an expression of the right of privacy as a mature concept, it would be hard to imagine what
However, having said that, it must be acknowledged that the invasion of privacy prior to the 20th
Century was limited to physical intrusions, usually by government, for information. All other
intrusions were associated with other crimes such as burglary, theft or other felonies. It is only
with the advent of 20th Century technology that the acquisition of information became an end in
itself. It has taken the advent of electronic communication and photography to create significant
Could privacy be one of those inalienable rights that are self-evident and bestowed upon citizens,
thus not subject to proof of argument as Boatright suggests? The EU has recently had a judicial
case holding that a person has a right to forgotten. Even if true, some information available on
the Internet should no longer be available simply because it is out of date. In the U.S., torts for
the invasion of privacy have been upheld in cases where news media have done a so-called
“Where Are They Now” story where people who have had done something ‘notorious’ in the past
are tracked down; otherwise peaceful and productive lives are completely disrupted.
Some are concerned with the vast amounts of personal information being acquired by private
companies. Government intrusion was controlled by the 4th Amendment but even that seems to
have been weakened by the laws surrounding the war on terror. Boatright’s analysis on utilitarian
grounds is limited to negative consequences; his analysis on Kantian grounds seems very good.
But missing was an analysis using Aristotelean virtue ethics. Others would simply maintain that
privacy is dead, or nothing like it used to be; get over it.
What is your opinion of your right to privacy? Is it a recent creation of little consequence other
than cultural custom? Or, is it a fundamental right that serves as an independent basis for limiting
actions of both government and society (all employers or private parties commonly referred to as
“Big Data”)? Why? Perform some research to support your analysis; provide at least 2 outside
sources to support your analysis.