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Personal Privacy in a Technologically Public World

  • Date Submitted: 09/21/2010 10:28 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 26 
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"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."1

So states Article 12 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, enacted in 1948 after 20 years of debate and refinement among member nations. Furthermore, the United Nations Commissioner on Human Rights in 1988 made clear that human rights protections on the secrecy of communications broadly covers all forms of communications:

"Compliance with Article 17 requires that the integrity and confidentiality of correspondence should be guaranteed de jure and de facto. Correspondence should be delivered to the addressee without interception and without being opened or otherwise read. Surveillance, whether electronic or otherwise, interceptions of telephonic, telegraphic and other forms of communication, wire-tapping and recording of conversations should be prohibited."2

The degree of privacy protection may differ among cultures and countries, and correspondence may encompass anything from a casual conversation among family members to extensive use of advanced telecommunications devices, but the principle remains the same: at a fundamental level, all human beings have a right to lawfully go about their ordinary business without interference or surveillance. Governments wishing to avoid United Nations sanctions may not make laws abridging these basic rights, and furthermore, must make it unlawful for other entities to do so as well. As the product of an international organization, the Declaration of Human Rights makes a strong case for a universal set of basic rights that follow from innate characteristics shared by all humans, in particular our sense of our own individual identities, and our ability to make choices based on intelligent reflection as opposed to instinctive reaction. In short, the Declaration of Human...


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