The Limits of Privacy

The Limits of Privacy

The Limits of Privacy

The Limits of Privacy

Synopsis

Focusing on flashpoint issues such as mandatory HIV testing of infants, encryption of electronic documents, national identification cards and medical records - this book argues that some things should outweigh the right to privacy.

Excerpt

Accompanied by his wife and nine-year-old son, John Becerra moved to Farmington, New York, in December 1995 to start a new life. Becerra had pleaded guilty to sexual abuse, served his time, and quietly begun his probation. In the spring of 1997, however, the Becerra family found themselves in the crosshairs of a neighborhood campaign to drive them out of town. Picketers rallied outside the family's home; a brick was thrown through their car window; a shot was fired through a window of their house; and anonymous calls were made to Mr. and Mrs. Becerra's workplaces. All this happened when members of the community found out about Becerra's past.

One afternoon in late July 1994, seven-year-old Megan Kanka didn't come home. Earlier a neighbor had offered to show her his new puppy. Once inside his home, the man sexually assaulted Megan, then strangled her with a belt and wrapped her head in a plastic bag. Her body was eventually found buried in a nearby park, blood trickling from her mouth and her shorts cut to pieces. Investigation led to the arrest of Jesse Timmendequas, a man who had served six years in prison for two sex offense convictions and who lived with two other child molesters. No one in the neighborhood knew about his past. Especially the Kankas.

No one needs to read a book--let alone a philosophical tract or an extensive policy analysis--to be reminded that the right to be let alone is much cherished, that without privacy no society can long remain free. And unless one has been denied access to all forms of communication and media, one has been fairly and repeatedly warned that privacy is not so much nibbled away as stripped away by every manner of new technology. Hardly a week passes without alarming headlines . . .

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