Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Privacy and Identity
  • Privacy Standards
  • Cross-Border Issues
  • Encryption
  • Cookies and Clickstreams
  • Free Speech and Filtering
  • Workplace Privacy
  • Medical Records
  • Lecture Hall

    Lesson beginning: March 15, 1999 - 12:00:00 AM (midnight Sunday)

    Jump to: lessons | readings | events

    1. Who's Watching and Why?: Privacy and Identity

    To begin our discussions, we'll examine some fundamental themes: What is privacy? Where does it stand in the firmament of human values? Who wants to violate it, and what might their reasons be? What does "cyberspace" do to privacy that "meatspace" does not?

    Privacy is an intensely, perhaps uniquely, personal value. The word stems from a Latin root, "privare," which meant "to separate." To want privacy is to want to be separate, to be individual. Another meaning of the Latin was "to deprive"; privacy also means leaving something behind.

    We would encourage participants to think about the readings in the context of your own lives and value systems. Who are you in private, and who are you in public? To what degree did privacy allow you to become who you are now? And what did you leave behind to become that person?

    Once you have thought about what privacy does, for you and for other individuals, we'll discuss what the Internet can do with privacy.

    To begin, please watch Professor Miller's Welcome Video (requires free RealPlayer) or read the transcript.

    Then watch the hypothetical scenario or read its transcript.

    • Privacy Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life (excerpts), Janna Malamud Smith
      Smith offers a definition of privacy that she bases on what it allows us to do; privacy is not a "thing," but a process. (details)
    • Who Am We?, Sherri Turkle
      The URL will refer you directly to page 4, which describes some of the ways that Internet users have created multiple identities for themselves - and explores some of the reasons why. (details)
    • "The Net Never Forgets", J.D. Lasica (details)
    • Fair Information Principles and Practices
      Several governments and NGOs have attempted to define what data privacy means. This overview presents several versions of the Fair Information Principles; note the differences and similarities among them. (details)
    • Privacy as commodity 1:, Sixdegrees, Inc.
      This site allows people to enter massive amounts of information about their schedule, their past, and their circle of friends and acquaintances - in exchange for the service of notifying your friends when you'll be in their town. (details)
    • Privacy as commodity 2:, IdeaLab! (details)
    • Privacy Law 1: Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967)
      Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967); See also Olmstead v. United States 277 U.S. 438 (1928)
      Abstract: In the early twentieth century, the Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment jurisprudence was geared toward the protection of property. The Court's inclination to protect property quite clearly is reflected in its 1928 decision in Olmstead v. United States (277 U.S. 438 (1928)). In Olmstead, the Supreme Court held that use of a wiretap to intercept a private telephone conversation was not a "search" for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. One of the grounds on which the Court justified its result was that there had been no physical intrusion into the person's home. Under Olmstead's narrow view of the Fourth Amendment, the amendment was not applicable in the absence of physical intrusion. Thus, without trespass or seizure of any material object, surveillance was beyond the scope of the Fourth Amendment as interpreted by the Olmstead Court.

      However, in its well-known decision in Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), the Supreme Court rejected Olmstead's "trespass" doctrine, articulating, in its place, a Fourth Amendment jurisprudence based on the protection of individual privacy. In Katz, the Court held that the Fourth Amendment protects people, not places: "What a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection¼ But what he seeks to preserve as private, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected."

      Thus, the Court held that physical penetration of a constitutionally protected area is not necessary before a search and seizure can be held to violate the Fourth Amendment. According to the Court in Katz, "once it is recognized that the Fourth Amendment protects people-and not simply "areas"-against unreasonable searches and seizures it becomes clear that the reach of that Amendment cannot turn upon the presence or absence of a physical intrusion into any given enclosure." Thus, although the Government's activities in Katz involved no physical intrusion, they were found to have violated the privacy on which the petitioner justifiably relied and thus constituted "search and seizure" within the meaning of the 4th Amendment. Changing technology precipitated the shift from protection of property to protection of privacy, and in 1968, just one year after Katz, Congress passed Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act authorizing microphone surveillance or wiretapping for law enforcement purposes, and requiring a warrant, based on probable cause, prior to such surveillance or wiretapping.

    • Privacy Law 2: NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449 (1958)
      Abstract: The Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449 (1958) held unconstitutional Alabama's demand that the NAACP reveal the names and addresses of all of its Alabama members and agents. The NAACP court is said to have recognized that "[s]erious First Amendment questions arise . . . when there is such a nexus between anonymity and speech that a bar on the first is tantamount to a prohibition on the second." As one district court explained: "[t]he Court in NAACP v. Alabama was of the opinion that the injury to a right subsequent to disclosure of identity precludes the right to identification." In NAACP, the Court recognized freedom of association and held that forcing the NAACP to divulge its membership lists was "likely to affect adversely the ability of [the NAACP] to pursue their collective effort to foster beliefs which they admittedly have the right to advocate." Thus, anonymity was deemed necessary to the exercise of freedom of association.
    • Privacy Protection Technologies: Anonymous Remailers
      This is the site of an anonymous remailer that shut down after the Church of Scientology compelled disclosure of the identity of the sender of a message.

      You need not spend much time at this site, however, you might want to visit to get a feel for the costs and benefits of anonymous speech. (details)

    • Other: Welcome
      Start: March 15, 1999 - 12:00:00 AM (midnight Sunday),
      End: March 21, 1999 - 12:00:00 AM (midnight Saturday)
    • Other: Hypothetical
      Start: March 15, 1999 - 12:00:00 AM (midnight Sunday),
      End: March 21, 1999 - 12:00:00 AM (midnight Saturday)
    • Chat: Realtime chat with Professor Miller
      Start: March 22, 1999 - 06:30:00 PM,
      End: March 22, 1999 - 07:30:00 PM

    Berkman Center for Internet & Society