is a bundle of rights, a bundle of sticks. How many
sticks do you have to take out before you lose your
bundle, your overall right?
the pressures of society or to engage in intimate interactions,
some Brazilian aboriginals would go to clearings in
the forest, "alligator places." It is protection
from intrusion that drives the need for privacy. From
the earliest times, humans have participated in activities
with other humans whether it be hunting, gathering,
herding, planting, praying, warring, or socializing.
It was only at the moment when these interactions became
demanding, oppressive, or boring did humans seek shelter
from the intrusion. Although conceptualizations of privacy
emerged at different places and at different times,
the reasons for the genesis of the concept are the same.
The Old Testament offers many clues regarding the
relationships between Yahweh and the Hebrew people.
The populace was God's possession. Only Moses was
invited to enter the summit of Mount Sinai and, since
then, Mosaic Law directed both the public and private
lives of Hebrews. Even the most intimate relationships
and rituals were framed by religious law and belief.
Athens, we learn that very little distinction between
the public and private activity is made. In fact, individuals
were outcasts, idiotes, if they did not actively seek
office. As Socrates discovered, those wishing to remain
private or individualistic faced ostracism and sometimes
of Mencius, Confucius, and Hsun Tzu indicate an encouragement
to revere that which is public. It is clear that the
common person, however, did not have a part to play,
as in Athens, in the affairs of the state, other than
to accept one's position as subject. The subversive
Lao Tzu counter argues this premise and directs subjects
toward individual thought and freedom. Implicit in
this notion is that individual thought exiges private
time and space.
right to privacy against authority surfaced much later,
as in Europe during the medieval period when society
was based on a complex system of immunities and obligations.
The vassal enjoyed a certain degree of private time
and space if and when the obligations and responsibilities
to the lord were met. According to the oaths of fealty,
the vassal owed military service, attendance at court,
payments and hospitality. The lord was obligated,
in turn, to provide protection, hearing in court,
and respect for family interests.
Mr. Justice LaForest claims, "is the very hallmark
of a free society." We struggle with the location
of the demarcation lines, between the right to privacy
and the right to know, between an individuals right
to privacy and society's desire for security. Within
the public domain we have considered whether our government
should keep files containing
several hundred items of our personal information.
the domestic domain, we deal with issues regarding
marital and familial relations, telemarketing practices
that collect and share information, issues around
genetic testing and who should have access to personal
diaries or journals.
the professional and private spheres, we grapple with
the knowledge that our behaviours and interactions are
becoming more closely monitored because of the developing
becoming Orwellian surveillance societies? The "telescreen"
has not yet appeared to the extent that was described
in 1984, but, the ion-scanner, the iris ID, the palm
scanner, the smart card and penetrating cameras have
been effectively used to monitor our activities. We
are confronted with an array of questions pertaining
to our rights to privacy and property. Of course,
this includes one's right to access personal information.
In this legal domain, we meet issues relating to DNA
sampling, possession of controversial items, and search
the Charter of Rights and Freedoms offers Canadians
a "guaranteed protection" of privacy rights,
interpretations of the Charter are tempered by a consideration
of the public's right to security.
privacy of your own room or from your school's computer
lab, let's begin to explore some of the dilemmas that
confront us as the individual's right to privacy and
the public's right to know intersect. This site is
divided into three main sections: the privacy within
the domestic domain, privacy within the public domain
and legal aspects of privacy.
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Last Updated: 29-Mar-2004