Chris Watson December 11, 2011 Comm 401 A 001 Professor Morgan What Exactly is Privacy? I. Short Answer a.

What is Privacy?

As we came to a conclusion in class, privacy is not just a word, but also a concept that has much more than one definition. The meaning of this concept may change depending upon the situation at hand. One thing that each plaintiff may have in common is that privacy, in his or her regards, is a personal affair that should not be tampered with by anyone no matter the other person or organization status. There is no legal standard to what things and facts are considered private matters and what are not, which is a major issue in our society. This is why so many court cases on privacy arise because there is no black and white to privacy, just a cloud of gray.

b. Can privacy and technology coexist?

After spending a semester in this course, I no longer feel that privacy and technology can coexist. Being that the data holders have so much information on us, we are clueless to all they know about us. So the question is, does privacy even exist anymore in a time where technology is taking over? Before this course, I felt that I

did a pretty good job at keeping my personal life private. Now I know that once I put something personal on any site on the web, an entire company now knows something about my “personal” life and can do whatever they want with it. People who are do not know about companies such as data holders may think that privacy and technology can coexist, but once you find out about all the companies behind all these websites, you realize that privacy I extinct.

II. Long Answer a. A News of the World journalist who believes he/she was acting in the public interest by pursuing a story vs. a news subject accusing the journalist of hacking/stalking/lurking.

A case brought to the court by Jamie Loster accusing News of the World journalist, John Myer, of hacking, stalking, and lurking into her private life and personal belongings. Myers , on the other hand, defends himself by acting in the public interest by pursuing the story of Ms. Loster. Loster is senior at University of California, Los Angeles. She is in the top 3 percent of her class and is studying politics. She comes from a rough background. Her mother was said to be a huge prostitute in the community Loster grew up in. Her father was one of the city’s biggest drug dealers, who is now is prison for life. Jamie’s grandmother raised her, though that was not the best environment for her either. It was good enough to keep her out of harms way and trouble while growing

up. She went to the worst school in the district, but earned superb grades that qualified her for 75 percent tuition paid scholarship to UCLA. The catch being Loster is that she has cheated her way through all of this schooling and is still doing so. The rumor going around is that she is using some computer program to past all her test and some drug that helps retain the information from the test. Journalist, John Myer, had caught hold to the story one day while having coffee with a colleague for breakfast. The little information that he received from his colleague intrigued him to find out more. He informed the head supervisor of the story and was approved to write about it. “I want that story on m y desk by the end of the month” was exactly what his supervisor demanded. With no guidelines to go about getting this information, Myer felt that the only way to go about getting this information was to get it from the source itself. He decided to disguise himself as a UCLA student and become friends with Jamie in the next month. He would get close enough to her and then ask her how does she do it, how does she do so well in school. Two weeks passed and he had not gotten any closer to the core of the story. So one night while over at Jamie’s for pizza and a movie, John came up with an idea. He would send Jamie out to get the pizza from the delivery guy, then lock her out and act as if he could not hear the door when she came back knocking. In the meantime, he would be downloading her computer hardware to a disk and search through her cell phone. Well his plan failed, when Jamie came to the back door of her apartment, which was a glass door, and caught him snooping through her things. They got into an argument and Jamie sent him home. Myer did find out some great

information about Loster, though it was not the information that he was looking for. His article was published, using Jamie Loster as an example of how college girls do porn to help pay for college. Was John Myer wrong for going this far to get the story? Well that is just the thing: what is too far? John felt that he was doing what needed to be done to get a story out to the public, which is his job. We discussed in class how newspapers, journalists, etc. have the right to publish stories that are “newsworthy”, regardless if they must invade a persons privacy to get it or not. A big case that we spoke on more than once this semester was the Food Lion vs. ABC case, where ABC had reporters lie on resumes to get a job in the meat department at the Food Lion stores to find out if the company was wrongfully putting spoiled meat out for customers to buy. This was a case that is still debated upon ‘til this day, but in the end, both parties were wrong. Back to the question at hand, I feel that Myer was wrong for going this far to get the story, and he was wrong to publish the story of the new information he found on Jamie. Our first student-led discussion was on the topic of aggregation, which Solove defines as “the gathering of information about a person” (Solove, 2009). He states that “people expect certain limits on what is known about them and what others will find out. Aggregation upsets these expectations because it involves the combination of data in unanticipated ways to reveal facts about a person that are not readily known” (Solove, 2009). As a result of that definition and statement, what Myer did is a violation of Loster’s privacy. She did not want this information to be known about her doing porn to pay for school, and being that John gathered all

this information and then published it, his actions invaded all of her expected privacy. Myer’s actions also have interfered with Jamie’s identity. We read about identity and identification in Chapter 5 of Solove’s “Understanding Privacy”. He explains how identities are connected to data and how it “attaches information baggage to people”(Solove, 2009). Now that the majority of Los Angeles, which will soon become national news after this law suit, knows that Jamie Foster is using pornography as a way to support her college tuition, people will have negative comments to say about her and they will treat her differently. Our identities are who we are. Now, what will Jamie’s grandmother think of her? Most of the people in the community will say “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” This could be all mentally damaging for this young woman. Another topic that we discussed is exclusion. Exclusion is defined as “the failure to provide individuals with notice and input about their records” (Solove, 2009). Of course this is a violation of privacy because you are not informing people that what you are doing with their information. Myers, nor News of the World, thought it would be a good idea to inform Jamie that they would like to write a story on her and get some information about her study habits and test taking strategies. Myers simply took matters into his own hands and went to far. I could also blame the supervisor for not giving him any clear guidelines as to go about getting the story. According to Solove, “disclosure occurs when certain true information about a person is revealed to others” (Solove, 2009). He also states that “disclosure

involves damage of reputation cause by the dissemination, can cause harm even if revealed by a stranger , and threaten people’s security” (Solove, 2009). Personal information has been disclosed about Jamie’s life. Doing porn to help pay for school is not something that she wanted to be revealed to anyone, especially not through an article in a paper. The Remsburg v. Docusearch, Inc. case referred to in Understanding Privacy, talks about how a deranged man was obsessed with Amy Lynn Boyer. He got her social security number and the address to her job through Docusearch, a database company, then wen to Boyer’s job and murdered her. This information being revealed threatens Jamie’s security and puts her at risk of being traced down by some guy who might be obsessed with her porn. Being that the article states the school she attends, he can easily follow her home one night and fulfill one of his fantasies, while raping her. Lastly, we focused on intrusion, which “involves invasions or incursions in ton one’s life” (Solove, 2009). As I have already stated, Myer invaded Loster’s personal life and privacy once he went into her computer and cell phone. Solove also states that intrusion “disturbs the victim’s daily activities, alters her routines, destroys her solitude, and often makes her feel uncomfortable and uneasy” (Solove, 2009). I feel that his entire description will be what becomes of Jamie’s life. She will no longer know who to trust, she will be very paranoid around men, and she might even be afraid to be home alone and have to move back in with her grandmother. Privacy is something that we value as people. Solove states that “privacy enables people to create, explore and experiment and it enables expression of selfhood that conflict with prevailing social norms” (Solove, 2009). In the end

privacy is not something that’s meant to be shared with others, unless chosen to. It is something that our society needs to realize and cherish. John Myer violated Loster’s privacy in many ways and it is not right. Did he get his story out to the public like he wanted to? Yes, but look at the damage that was done while trying to tell one little story that he might have gotten if he just asked or even got another girl who might be in the same situation. Although, we like to get caught up in other’s lives there needs to be a point where we say, “ok, that is too personal.” The media and press need to realize that newsworthiness is not a valid reason to go and invade the privacy of our citizens. I think that their needs to be a more ethical approach to the entire concept of newsworthiness. Maybe we should reconsider what we use as a rubric to determine what makes the news and what does not.

III. Analysis and Application

Over a decade ago, Michigan was first to try to enact a law of randomly drug testing welfare recipients to see if they were using government funds to do illegal drugs. Their attempt lasted five weeks, and then was stopped by a judge, the law ended up being classified as unconstitutional. Florida picked up on the law next, but now, a federal judge, Judge Mary Scriven, has blocked the law because “it may violate the Constitution’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures” (Kennedy & Schneider, 2011). Kansas advocate, Kasha Kelley, and West Virginia proponent, Craig P. Blair, have introduced similar bills to their states. The Kansas House passed Kelley’s bill but it has not received the Senate’s approval.

Judge Scriven wrote that, “The drug test can reveal a host of private medical facts about the individual.” She finds “it troubling that the drug tests are not kept confidential like medical records. The results can also be shared with the law enforcement officers and drug abuse hotlines” (Kennedy & Schneider, 2011). Critics says that these bills are not just misguided but unconstitutional. “A federal appellate court threw out Michigan’s random drug testing drug law in 2003, saying it violated the constitutional ban against unreasonable search and seizure” (Greenblatt, 2010). The Fourth Amendment states that people have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, and effects , against unreasonable searches and seizures. Searches require “probable cause,” which means law enforcement must prove an “individualized suspicion.” An exemption of the “probably cause” requirement is cases which there are “special government needs,” such as sobriety checkpoints and exemption from the “individualized suspicion” requirement is special needs cases that allow drug testing of persons who voluntarily participate in highly regulated context. In this particular case, I feel that drug testing applicants of welfare is unconstitutional and a violation of privacy. Although, the cause behind this bill has good intentions to catch those who are using government funds wrongfully, it is violating the peoples right to the Fourth Amendment. In a way, it seems as if proponents of the bill are saying that the majority of people on welfare are on drugs and that by catching them in the act, they will end up saving a lot of money. I feel that the random drug testing might be a little more appropriate, but to just test every individual that applies for this financial assistance, it is going a bit too far.

In the article about the Florida judge blocking the law, she stated how the information from the drug testing would not be kept confidential and given to outside sources. We discussed this concept in class, it is a form of secondary use. According to Solove, “secondary use is the use of data for purposes unrelated to the purpose for which the data was initially collected without the data subject’s consent” (Solove, 2009) . Even for those people who may have agreed to take the drug test, they did not agree for the result to be passed along to other sources such as law enforcement officers and drug abuse hotlines. This is an easy way to start a slippery slope for many of the people who fail the drug test. Solove also states that “secondary use is also referred to as ‘mission creep’ or ‘data creep,’ which describes the gradual expansion of uses of information over time” (Solove, 2009). With that statement in mind, maybe the real cause behind this is to find out who is doing drugs illegally and putting a stop to it rather than saving lives of parents and helping people that are addicted to drugs get their life back.. In the State of Vermont vs. Data Miners case, pharmacies were selling prescription information to data miners. The data miners then sell the information to drug manufacturers that in turn send sales representatives to doctors and recommend that they prescribe brand name drugs instead of generic brands. This case was a form of secondary use, but it was blocking commercial speech, which is why the secondary use of the prescription information was still allowed and the Vermont law to ban it was struck down by the Supreme Court (Biskupic, 2011). Though in this particular case, the secondary use of information was struck down, I feel that the case at hand would be more effective in persuading the courts that

secondary use is unconstitutional. There is no violating of any other rights or speech in this case where individual’s drug tests are being distributed to other sources. In my opinion, it is just a way of demeaning the individuals who might get caught doing illegal drugs. This bill also distorts the image of the welfare recipients of our country. As I stated earlier, in a way, it seems as if proponents of the bill are saying that the majority of people on welfare are on drugs. We based our distortion discussion on reality television in class, but this is the same thing, it is just reality. “Distortion is the manipulation of the way a person is perceived and judged by others; it involves the victim being inaccurately characterized (Solove, 2009). I would not say that the advocates of the drug-testing bill are trying to manipulate the welfare applicants, but they are placing such a big deal on the fact that they are assuming welfare recipients are doing illegal drugs. Solove also notes that “distortion, like disclosure, involves the spreading of information that affects the way society views a person” (Solove, 2009). Now with this information being out in the news and on television, people may start to judge those whom they might know are on welfare, which could cause damage to relationships or even “randomly selected” drug testing of welfare recipients at their jobs. We also discussed the idea of exposure and how it is a violation of privacy. “Exposure involves exposing to others certain physical and emotional attributes about a person, and information about our bodies and health “(Solove, 2009). To refer back to the statement made by Judge Scriven, “the drug test can revel a host of private medical facts about the individual.” This would expose those that are

illegally using drugs to their communities, their jobs, maybe even their families. Not to say that we should protect people that are illegally using drugs, but there is a certain way to go about everything. To drug test people and take away their benefits is one thing, but then to turn around and give their information to drug abuse hotlines and law enforcement officers is out of line. These people could lose their jobs, go to jail or even prison, and have their children taken away from them and so on. A quote from Solove captures the damage of exposure: Exposure works in a different way, by stripping people of their dignity. Exposure interacts with powerful and potent social norms. When people willingly transgress these norms, society has a strong interest in shaming them, and it is socially beneficial for these norms to be internalized and to result in feelings of shame. However, exposure involves people unwillingly placed in transgression of these norms. We do not view the victims as blameworthy, and there is little social value in their suffering. Nevertheless, because of the internalization of these norms, exposure victims experience strong feelings of shame (Solove, 2009). This is not to say that we should not punish those who might be doing illegal drugs but, as I stated before, there is a certain way to go about everything. The welfare applicants have only consented to the drug test to determine if they are qualified to receive aid, not to determine if they are felons or wrongful citizens. I feel that the government has good intentions with the idea that some welfare recipients are using drugs, but that does not give them the right to invade people’s privacy. The Fourth Amendment clearly states that there must be an

individualized suspicion and probable cause. To randomly drug test an individual who one might think is doing drugs is how things are done now and that is the way things should stay. If there is enough interest in finding out if welfare applicants are engaged in illegal drug use, maybe they should start to run background checks on each applicant. This would be less of a threat to privacy being that they would be searching records that are already made public. We are living in the information age where technology is taking over. Allow technology to be a part of this in a way that is not invasive of the people. There can be guideline made as to how to go about those who have a bad history. I feel that this would be a better way to ease into the process of finding out if recipients are using illegal drugs. Maybe in the future this law can be brought up again and as a country, we might be ready to allow it to pass, but as for now, it is too far out of hand.

References Biskupic, J. (2011, June 23). USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/judicial/supremecourtopinio ns/2011-06-23-supreme-court-prescription-data-mining_n.htm Kennedy, K., & Schneider, M. (2011). Judge blocks Fla.'s new welfare drug testing law. Retrieved from http://news.yahoo.com/judge-blocks-fla-welfare-drugtesting-law-192910417.html Greenblatt, A. (2010, March 31). Should welfare recipients get drug tested?. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125387528 Solove, D. J. (2009). Understanding privacy. (First Harvard University Press paperback edition ed., p. 257). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful

Master Your Semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master Your Semester with a Special Offer from Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.