Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide?

By Anita L. Allen | Go to book overview
Save to active project


It is difficult scientifically to measure such a thing, but the taste for privacy seems to be dwindling. Or maybe, before electronic technology entered our lives, informational privacy was just a happenstance fact of life rather than a passion. Whatever the state of taste, I believe that mature adults, young adults, teens, and children, have privacy and data protection needs of which they may fail to be fully mindful or feel helpless to address on their own. With this in mind, consider the vast sweep of existing privacy and data protection statutes adopted by Congress, nearly all of which permits adults to waive or alienate their privacy rights. We have a great deal of privacy law aimed at regulating the flow of information, but only a small portion of it functions to protect the privacy people do not care or take care to protect. We are allowed to give privacy away.

Congress has enacted dozens of privacy protection statutes, resulting in a rich sectorby-sector patchwork quilt of special-purpose rules. (Congress has not followed the approach of the European Union, which has enacted several comprehensive multisector data-directives. In chapter 5, I described the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the federal health privacy statute. In chapter 8, I will assess the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a paternalistic statute designed to protect the informational privacy of young children and their households; and by way of comparison to COPPA, I will highlight features of other statutes—the Privacy Act of 1974, the Family Education and Right to Privacy Act of 1974, and the Video Privacy Act of 1988. Along with chapter 8, the present chapter explains why and how privacy laws matter, exploring the social and ethical significance of real and imagined technologies propelling the on-going phenomenon I call “the great privacy give-away.”


A complete list of major privacy protection laws enacted by Congress would include, chronologically: the Fair Credit Reporting Act (1970), regulating confidential credit reports; the Privacy Act (1974), regulating access to federal records; the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA, 1974), including privacy exemptions to a federal open records law; the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 1974), regulating access to school records; the Right to Financial Privacy Act (1978), regulating access to banking


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide?


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 259

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?