Privacy. The Lost Right

Cover of Mills' The title of this post is the provocative title of a recently published book from Oxford University Press written by Jon L Mills (on the author, see University of Florida Levin College of Law | University of Miami School of Law; on the book, see Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Books | OUP; if you want to judge it by its cover, that’s it on the right left).

The OUP blurb says that the book:

  • Provides a straightforward and concise history of the regulations and policies governing our personal privacy
  • Reviews the full range of privacy issues that affect United States citizens, including identity theft, government surveillance, tabloid journalism, and video surveillance in public places
  • Considers the legal tools available to individuals who wish to protect their personal privacy

The disturbing reality of contemporary life is that technology has laid bare the private facts of most people’s lives. Email, cell phone calls, and individual purchasing habits are no longer secret. Individuals may be discussed on a blog, victimized by an inaccurate credit report, or have their email read by an employer or government agency without their knowledge. Government policy, mass media, and modern technology pose new challenges to privacy rights, while the law struggles to keep up with the rapid changes.

Privacy: The Lost Right evaluates the status of citizens’ right to privacy in today’s intrusive world. Mills reviews the history of privacy protections, the general loss of privacy, and the inadequacy of current legal remedies, especially with respect to more recent privacy concerns, such as identity theft, government surveillance, tabloid journalism, and video surveillance in public places. Mills concludes that existing regulations do not adequately protect individual privacy, and he presents options for improving privacy protections.

This is only one of several recent books which make for compelling but depressing reading about the state of the protection of privacy today. Against that background, it was surely intended that the title have echoes of “Privacy: The Last Rite(s)”?