The Right to Privacy

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Sep 29, 2010 - Political Science - 432 pages
2 Reviews
Can the police strip-search a woman who has been arrested for a minor traffic violation? Can a magazine publish an embarrassing photo of you without your permission? Does your boss have the right to read your email? Can a company monitor its employees' off-the-job lifestyles--and fire those who drink, smoke, or live with a partner of the same sex? Although the word privacy does not appear in the Constitution, most of us believe that we have an inalienable right to be left alone. Yet in arenas that range from the battlefield of abortion to the information highway, privacy is under siege. In this eye-opening and sometimes hair-raising book, Alderman and Kennedy survey hundreds of recent cases in which ordinary citizens have come up against the intrusions of government, businesses, the news media, and their own neighbors. At once shocking and instructive, up-to-date and rich in historical perspective, The Right to Private is an invaluable guide to one of the most charged issues of our time.

"Anyone hoping to understand the sometimes precarious state of privacy in modern America should start by reading this book."--Washington Post Book World

"Skillfully weaves together unfamiliar, dramatic case histories...a book with impressive breadth."--Time

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Human-interest stories of privacy invaded, plus a smattering of legal concepts for the uninitiated. Alderman and Kennedy (In Our Defense, 1991) reprise their bestselling formula to explore that most ... Read full review

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Q. How did you like the book?
A. Well, it's out of date now but it is a readable summary of the law in privacy up to 1995.
Q. Why did you read it if it's out of date?
A. It caught my interest because of the individual cases. In each area of privacy, Ellen and Caroline give a detailed summary of a standout case. For example, one case involved a man who was unknowingly photographed walking across a New York street. His photo later appeared on a magazine cover. He was presented as an exemplar of the new black middle class. But the photographer never sought his permission to photograph him, much less publish the photo. So the man found a lawyer who would sue on his behalf. Can news photographers take pictures of whomever, in order to illustrate their stories? Or do the individuals have some right to privacy?
Q. So the case studies were interesting?
A. Yes. And following these are some "passing judgment" cases that give only short case summaries in the same area.
Q. Is the book worth reading?
A. It's of historical interest, now. Much has changed with the arrival of widespread Internet access. Ellen and Carolyn devote their last chapter to this issue but in the early 1990s, when the book was researched, things were barely beginning to change. A paperback version was published in 2010 and may include more information on electronic privacy. I didn't read that edition.

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About the author (2010)

Caroline Kennedy is an attorney and the coauthor (with Ellen Alderman) of The Right to Privacy and In Our Defense.

Ellen Alderman is the coauthor, with Caroline Kennedy, of The Right to Privacy and In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action.

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