Privacy Rights Are a Fundamental American Value

Justice Potter Stewart wrote that “The Fourth Amendment and the personal rights it secures have a long history. At the very core stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable government intrusion.”

From using the telephone to seeking medical treatment to applying for a job or sending e-mail over the Internet, our right to privacy is in peril. Our personal and business information is being digitized through an ever-expanding number of computer networks in formats that allow data to be linked, transferred, shared and sold, usually without our knowledge or consent. The same technological advances that have brought enormous benefits to humankind also make us more vulnerable than ever before to unwanted snooping.

As technology provides new ways to gather information and databases proliferate, the need for privacy protections becomes more urgent. The ACLU is a national leader in working to guarantee that individuals may determine how and when others can gain access to their personal information.