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Cash Value 1/10 of a Cent 183

Posted by michael
from the bearer-bond dept.
goombah99 writes "It happens all-too-often that the govenment and companies negligently reveal citizen's private information on their websites. When collection of this information is something required by law there is an obligation to protect it. But is privacy a 'property' and does its loss require compensation? Wired news reports 'The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Wednesday over whether the federal government should reimburse individuals whose sensitive data was disclosed illegally, even if no harm can be proven. At issue before the court, according to privacy advocates, is how valuable privacy really is.'"
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Cash Value 1/10 of a Cent

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  • The Issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oculus Habent (562837) * <oculus,habent&gmail,com> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:24PM (#7648635) Journal
    Privacy isn't a property - it is a privilege. This is evidenced by taking away certain levels of privacy from criminals... You can find out information about the location of a federal prisoner through the Freedom of Information Act; neighbors must be notified when some sex offenders move into an area - thus limiting their privacy...

    I think the wording is odd in that statement. It isn't privacy that is a property, it's the information that is a property. Privacy is a means to protect that information, and failing to protect personal "property" that someone is required to provide is my issue here. Just as if the government required a key to your house and then made then available for duplication.
    • Re:The Issue (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Planesdragon (210349) <slashdot@[ ]tles ... s ['cas' in gap]> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:30PM (#7648677) Homepage Journal
      Privacy isn't a property - it is a privilege. This is evidenced by taking away certain levels of privacy from criminals...

      You're so right, and then so wrong.

      Privacy isn't a right per-se, but it certainly is more than a mere priviledge. Privacy is a presumption that is often necessary for a citizen to enjoy their most important right--that of quiet and safe enjoyment of their own life.

      And criminals are a horrible example of "it's not like property." We violate oodes of a prisoner's rights--that's how we penalize folk who break the law.

      It isn't privacy that is a property, it's the information that is a property.

      False, I believe. Mere information should be public domain--if I want to find out, oh, what your telephone number is, there shouldn't be any penalty whatsoever if someone tells it to me.

      • Re:The Issue (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SeXy_Red (550409) <Meviper85 AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:45PM (#7648786)
        I believe that privacy is neither property or a privilege, but a right. Like many rights, it does have its limits. In the US, you have the right to free speech, but, if your free speech infringes on someone elses same right, then your right is then taken away.

        And criminals are a horrible example of "it's not like property." We violate oodes of a prisoner's rights--that's how we penalize folk who break the law.

        So true, the criminals gave up there privacy rights when they commited a crime. A sexual malester lost his rights the minute he commited a perverted act, because his right to privacy would infringe on others rights to safety.
        • Re:The Issue (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Myopic (18616)
          Point of order: a sexual molester (you misspelled that word) loses his rights when he is *convicted* of committing a perverted act.
        • Re:The Issue (Score:4, Insightful)

          by davidstrauss (544062) <david@NoSPam.davidstrauss.net> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:19PM (#7649034)
          A sexual malester lost his rights the minute he commited a perverted act, because his right to privacy would infringe on others rights to safety.

          First, like another reply, the guarantee of rights is lost on conviction, not commission. That standard allows us to prevent convictions of murders in self-defense and other murky offenses. Second, the nature of something being a "perverted act" (by anyone's definition) is not a constitutionally-sound basis for a law (see Lawrence v. Texas). The basis for molestation laws is the harm to the molested person, not the act of molestation itself. Thus, what would otherwise be molestation in a consentual situation where both people are after the age of consent is just normal sexual contact. (Disclaimer: IANAL.)

          • "where both people are after the age of consent"

            This is something desperately needs fixed. What if both people are BEFORE the age of consent? I'm not even sure if that's technically illegal or not. In many states the age of consent was lowered for one gender by a year, making it illegal for someone who is the same age to have sex with another of that age. I generally think there should be something to the tune of a 5yr grace period. If two consenting partners are within 5yrs of eachother's age it shou
        • Re:The Issue (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          In the US, you have the right to free speech, but, if your free speech infringes on someone elses same right, then your right is then taken away.

          A problem with the legal system in the US is this mindset that exercising your rights can't infringe on someone else's rights. How's that? So if you have the right to peace and quiet and I have the right to chainsaw firewood in my back yard, whos rights win out? The one with the most legal clout? Yes, exactly. In other words, the one with the most money.
          That
      • Re:The Issue (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Oculus Habent (562837) * <oculus,habent&gmail,com> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:45PM (#7648790) Journal
        Hrm...

        I see your point, but I want to add some additional definition to muddy the waters...

        Privacy isn't a natural right. I do consider it stronger than a generic privilege, so I would like to call it a governed right. That is, privacy may not be inherent to existence, but it should be to our government. Privacy is something I would rather not lose.

        I concede on the criminals point. We do take away rights - governed or natural.

        I still think that privacy is a method rather than an object. Some information should be free - indeed I can go to SuperPages [superpages.com] and look up a phone number or a name from a number. I can go to Google [google.com], type in a phone number, and bring up a name and driving directions.

        With the phone number as an example, I have the option to request a level of privacy - an unlisted number. Privacy becomes the mechanism by which you cannot find my phone number without having been granted certain privilege. The privilege to find an unlisted number comes with additional responsibility and, most importantly, accountability. This is where the government comes in.

        The government knows your phone number. They know your social security number (hopefully), bank account numbers, your credit card numbers - all the pieces of information that you may wish to be private. If, then, we assume that privacy is a right - govered or natural - then the government must take steps to secure our information if we wish it so, and if privacy is a right, the presumption must be that we do wish it.
        • I don't really understand the concept of "natural right". The only truly natural things are the things you can measure -- weight, length, static charge, etc. Rights are just conventions of behavior that we choose to enforce in our society. Fortunately, our society has more rights than some others -- however, that doesn't make it somehow more "natural". For example, an extremist Islamic society, such as Iran, would consider it perfectly natural that women should always be covered in cloth from head to toe; t
      • Re:The Issue (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lifewish (724999)

        And yet different ownership of critical information is, to use a very cliched example, what makes systems like RSA work. You don't want the world and his wife able to get at your bank account. Only in a perfect communist state could information be free - and then only because it's valueless. There would be nothing to protect.

        I like the point on rights as priveleges by the way. Only addition I'd like to make is that this only works because power is outsourced to the government. Personally, I find the most

        • Re:The Issue (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Planesdragon (210349)
          . You don't want the world and his wife able to get at your bank account.

          I don't want, and I shold be able to prevent, anyone from _effecting_ my bank account.

          If everyone and their brother knows exactly how much is in my bank account, but cannot do anything more then send me an offer for a short-term loan or a "special cash rate" for a purchase, then all of my rights remain intact.
          • I was thinking more of things like account passwords. It's an extreme example, but I don't know of anyone who advocates making these public domain.

          • If everyone and their brother knows exactly how much is in my bank account, but cannot do anything more then send me an offer for a short-term loan or a "special cash rate" for a purchase, then all of my rights remain intact.
            I dunno if I'm being funny or serious, but I'd rather keep my information private and make life harder for spammers. Yea, that sounds much better than everyone knowing my business and being flooded with junk mail...
          • Re:The Issue (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Oculus Habent (562837) *
            The issue there is when does the availability of that information start interfering with your life?

            If everyone has access to your medical records, even if they can't change them, we could start getting to a Gattaca [imdb.com] style world; where people are discriminated against based upon their genetic profile.

            We could make laws that say having access to certain information can't affect your decisions, but that is easily circumvented by finding or creating other "reasons" to select a differen, "better" individual.

            To
      • Re:The Issue (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sfjoe (470510) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:49PM (#7648820)


        Privacy isn't a right per-se...

        It most certainly IS a right. It is not specifically enumerated in the Bill of Rights but it is one of the most primary of the unenumerated rights as specified in the 9th Amendment.

        "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
        • You are right that privacy is a right but why do you say it is not enumerated in the Bill of Rights? The fourth amendment specifically states that your right to keep your self, house, papers (18th century equivalent of data), and effects secure shall not be violated. How could the Right of Privacy have been defined any clearer?

          Unfortunately only the government itself and those acting "under color of law" are restrained by the amendment, unless a law is in effect in your jurisdiction providing relief from v
      • Re:The Issue (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BlowChunx (168122)
        "Mere information should be public domain--if I want to find out, oh, what your telephone number is, there shouldn't be any penalty whatsoever if someone tells it to me."

        My phone number is just information, but calling me every 10 minutes would be an invasion of my privacy. My home address and work address are just information, but stalking me (because you know how to find me...) is and invasion of my privacy.

        We all have personal information, but it's the abuse of that information that is the issue here.
      • Information is not property (see the idea/expression distinction in IP law). Misappropriation doctrine comes closest to viewing info as property, but that doctrine is circumscribed by strong limits that intend to focus the doctrine on incentives to gather information. The "right to exclude" disappears as soon as the article isn't "hot news," meaning it's probably not really a right to exclude.
    • Re:The Issue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by larry bagina (561269) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:31PM (#7648683) Journal
      Privacy isn't a property - it is a privilege.

      It's not a privilege, it's an inalienable right. It's granted to you by your existance. It can only be taken away by due process or your own abdication of it.

      Privilege implies you have to be a good little boy before it applies to you, and that it can be taken away at any time for any reason.

      • Re:The Issue (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Gramie2 (411713)

        It's not a privilege, it's an inalienable right. It's granted to you by your existance. It can only be taken away by due process or your own abdication of it.

        Makes it a rather alienable right, rather than an unalienable one. An inalienable right is one that cannot be taken away.

        • Re:The Issue (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jnana (519059)
          so what you're saying is that there is no such thing as an inalienable right, since there clearly is no 'right' that has has never been nor could be taken away.
          • just because a right is violated does not mean it has been alienated. come on - that's so simple!
          • Leave the government and artificial laws out for a second, and tell me this:

            If it were just you and me in a room, what rights do you have that I cannot take away from you there and then?
          • so what you're saying is that there is no such thing as an inalienable right, since there clearly is no 'right' that has has never been nor could be taken away.

            No. An example of an inalienable right is freedom from bondage. You can't (legally) be enslaved, nor voluntarily submit to slavery, nor sell yourself into chattel slavery.

            An example of an alienable right is your right to free speech. You can enter a contract where you agree to be restricted as to what you may speak about - e.g. a nondisclosure ag

      • Re:The Issue (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Planesdragon (210349)
        It's not a privilege, it's an inalienable right.

        Bullocks.

        If you tell me your phone number, and I tell someone else, I have invaded your privacy, but I certainly haven't infringed upon your rights--and there should be no consequnece to me.

        The government, of course, is a special case--but so are spouses, doctors, lawyers, and priests--who DO have legal authority to mainatin your privacy.
    • Copyright your personal information.

    • If semantics say (Score:4, Insightful)

      by way2trivial (601132) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:50PM (#7648827) Homepage Journal
      because it can be taken away.. it's a privilege.
      then why is it the death penalty flies in the face of our constitutional rights?

      (your rights can be taken away too ya know)

    • "neighbors must be notified when some sex offenders move into an area"

      Weird... politicians always seem to notify their neighbours when they move into an area too...
    • Privacy isn't a property - it is a privilege.
      Maybe not so much of a privilege, but a right. If an organization (especially a gov't org) has information about you that could be harmful towards you if it fell into the wrong hands then it is that organization's duty to protect that information.

      I think the wording is odd in that statement. It isn't privacy that is a property, it's the information that is a property. Privacy is a means to protect that information, and failing to protect personal "property" t
    • Re:The Issue (Score:2, Informative)

      by Myopic (18616)
      The Supreme Court has consistently held that privacy is a right of Americans, guaranteed implicitly by the Constitution.

      I agree with the Supreme Court.
    • Privacy is a right. The fourth ammendment is often interpreted as including the right to privacy in regards to government intrusion. In addition you have a common law right to privacy, thats why you can sue for invasion of privacy. Although that is generally limited to photographing and recording your image or voice for commercial use without permission. Still federal law requires the government to not disclose certain information it collects about you and when the government violates its own laws you shoul
    • Re:The Issue (Score:5, Informative)

      by RealProgrammer (723725) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:08PM (#7648950) Homepage Journal
      Privacy isn't a property - it is a privilege.

      The Fourth Amendment would tend to disagree:

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      Privacy is a Right, like the Rights to Believe, to Communicate, to Move, to stay and Fight, and to Own Property. These are enumerated specifically, and it was the belief of the Framers that they are inherent in being a human. They set forth cases in which those rights could be limited, such as for convicts, slaves, and in time of war.

      The issue is not whether you have a right to privacy. The issue is whether the government, having already collected the otherwise private information, is free to pass that information on to others.

      • Note the wording of the amendment however, secure in their persons (you're body), houses (your home), papers (your files), and effects (your property like a car)

        It says nothing about information about you which other people posess and how that may be used
        • 'Papers' sure sounds like information to me.
          • Nope. Pappers as in the files you keep. THe stuff on your computer and the reciepts that you keep etc. If someone else has the information already however, that's not your papers anymore.
            • Re:The Issue (Score:2, Insightful)

              by jnana (519059)
              There is great precedent for taking literal things like 'papers' -- which was synonymous with (sometimes personal or private) information in that day -- and interpreting them in light of the different context in which we live today. Hence, 'papers' is interpreted to mean more today than it did 200 years ago, just like 'speech' in the first amendment means more than it did 200 years ago. Fortunately, interpreters of the constitution are generally not as literal minded as you!
        • That list is clearly meant to shine a light with a broad spectrum on privacy. Government is not supposed to be in our private lives.

          But certainly, if the government is not supposed to compel us to divulge information to them, it shouldn't spread that information to others simply because it already has it. The damage isn't over when just one person learns the secret, but worsens as the information spreads.
    • Re:The Issue (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kramer (19951)
      Privacy isn't a property - it is a privilege. This is evidenced by taking away certain levels of privacy from criminals...

      By that logic --

      Freedom is a privledge. This is evidenced by taking away freedom from convicted criminals.

      Voting is a privledge. This is evidenced by taking away voting rights from convicted criminals.

      Living is a privledge. This is evidenced by taking away life from convicted murderers.

      Just because it can be taken away doesn't mean it's a privledge. The constitution guarantees n
    • Hmm, this is a weird case. In a way, they are trying to mandate the extent of what should be punitive damages (a penalty above and beyond what the 'actual' damamges were).

  • by Nadsat (652200) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:30PM (#7648674) Homepage
    "If someone rummages through all your stuff, nothing's taken, but they find out information about you, (yet) you can't show actual damages.

    If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a noise? Did some one ever come up with an answer to that age old parabole? If not, I don't think the Supreme Court any time soon will wrap its hands around an ancient Zen koan.

    • If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a noise? My 2 penneth-worth: Yes, because the tree can't tell whether anyone's listening :)
      • And in this case the echo could start an avalanche. It's like giving out duplicates of someone's house key and claiming you haven't done anything wrong cos no-one's broken in yet. Especially now that this problem is in the public eye, there's a real risk of identity theft for these people.
      • Unless I'm mistaken, a sound is just a vibration until there's a listener to interpret it. Ergo, no; the tree falling makes vibrations unless someone is around to hear it. ^.~
    • by Anonymous Coward
      So what you're saying with the tree metaphor is that if a crime has been committed, and no one is affected by it, why is it a crime in the first place?

      If private information is released, and no one is affected by it, then why is it a problem to release private information in the first place?

      This creates its own self-serving logic... which logically (and it doe smake sense) gives right to let the supreme court release what they want.

      However, if it is a problem to release private inforamtion... then let's
    • "If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a noise?"

      My tape recorder says it does.
    • If I download an MP3, but it's from Britney Spears and I promise that I deleted it after I heard the opening few seconds, will I still be persecuted for my error?
    • There was a young man who said "God
      Must think it exceedinly odd
      If he finds that the tree
      Continues to be
      When there's no one around in the quad"

      "Dear Sir, Your astonishment's odd
      I AM always around in the quad
      And that's why the tree
      Will Continue to be
      Since observed by,
      yours faithfully,
      God."
  • by ignipotentis (461249) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:30PM (#7648675)
    Is good for the Gander... If companies can make money by selling private information, then they can lose it by releasing it publicy if they are not authorized.
    • by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:13PM (#7648986)
      When the maximum an individual can recover is $1000, the value of trying to prove one was injured only makes sense in a class action.

      But if each individual has to prove harm this becomes prohibitive. Say if my SS is left exposed for a few months on a web site, and later my identity is stolen. Can I prove that one caused the other? Not likely.

      It seems like certain information shoul dbe designated as must-be-kept-secure and its very exposure shifts the burden of proof that no harm was done to the government.

      Of course as a practical matter this could get sticky if one day say a server containing all of the SSN numbers were hacked or a disgruntled employee posted them.

  • Gamming the system (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Suppose I
    1. copyright all my personal data
    2. put it in a database
    3. ad a PGP signature to bring in the DMCA
    4. Sue everybody and his dog who sells or distibutes said information
    5. Profit?
  • I think so (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IANAL(BIAILS) (726712) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:30PM (#7648679) Homepage Journal
    It shouldn't really matter if no damage can be proven to the people... I would think the Court should award punative damages to punish for the illegal disclosure, and hopefully 'encourage' them not to do such a thing again.
  • Another good article (Score:4, Informative)

    by exhilaration (587191) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:33PM (#7648701)
    Check out This excellent article [msn.com] on Slate.com about Supreme Court arguments regarding a family's right to privacy after an individual's death.

    It's also really funny.

  • Good for security (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rastakid (648791) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:33PM (#7648704) Homepage Journal
    I think this is a wise move, since the companies and governments will probably take a more pro-active stance for security. If security was already an issue in the past at a given company/government, they will probably do even more work to secure it even better. And those who didn't care about security, really need to start looking for some security administrators. Remember: money makes the world go 'round.
  • by PSaltyDS (467134) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:34PM (#7648715) Journal
    "At issue before the court, according to privacy advocates, is how valuable privacy really is."

    ...make it clear to the Judges, Lawyers, and Representatives involved that their decision WILL apply to THEIR personal data! I really believe they forget that sometimes. There was a /. article, which I'm too lazy to look up now, about a District Atourney who ruled getting personal data from someone's trash was not actionable. His attitude changed when a group of activists raided HIS trash and published what they found.

    Any technology distinguishable from magic is insuficiently advanced.
  • Oh come on (Score:4, Funny)

    by SeXy_Red (550409) <Meviper85 AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:35PM (#7648722)
    My personal information is worth atleast 2/10 of a cent :P
  • this is stupid (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    what the hell? so, what it sounds like is that unless your a paris hilton or michael jackson, they don't really give a shit about you because you're not worth enough to sue anyone.

    privacy is privacy and it should apply to all equally. who determines what the cost was? for famous person it's pretty easy to prove lose, but for the average joe, we're just fucked. fuck that noise

    disclaimer: I did not RTFA
  • Finally... micropayments!
  • by FreeLinux (555387) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:42PM (#7648768)
    It should be fairly easy to place a dollar value on privacy. First we can geta value by looking at what marketers (or marketeers) are charging companies for your information. A list of 10,000 names and phone numbers can cost a mortgage company's telemarketing department tens of thousands of dollars. So, it's rather simple to place a dollar amount on the value on an individuals information. Compound that value with the multiple of times that the information was disclosed and throw in a percentage for damages and you find that privacy has a rather high cost.

    And yes, they should reimburse people for breaches. Stupidity should definitely be painful.
    • I dont have any mod points :(

      Certainly he has just proven that the free market has already put a price on private information. And for things that arent legally traded such as SSN the government could put an arbitrary high value but not an extreme one, and of course the value of such data could be changed from tiem to time through acts of congress or executive order...

    • A list of 10,000 names and phone numbers can cost a mortgage company's telemarketing department tens of thousands of dollars. So, it's rather simple to place a dollar amount on the value on an individuals information.

      Did you consider that if you open sourced your information, they could no longer make any money off it?

      -a
  • Ok, I know this is a serious matter, but did he have to pick "Buck Doe"? Sounds like a porn star for bestiality movies!
  • I have came across people's Social Security many times. By putting a value to people's information you will hopefully decrease the leaking of this data to the world. Now the only question is what is the number we need to put on it.
  • by tds67 (670584) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @02:56PM (#7648873)
    But is privacy a 'property' and does its loss require compensation?

    Absolutely, unequivocally "YES" on both counts.

    We live in an increasingly Corporate culture, where it's always "the economy stupid." We have become global Corporate citizens instead of citizens of any one particular country. Privacy is not respected by the machinery of business, and those of you out there who have ever worked with or in a Marketing department know what I'm talking about.

    It took a law to put the brakes on telemarketers, and God knows what it will take to stop spam, if that's even possible. But by making privacy a "property" that has monetary value, we can finally put it on the radar screens of Big Business.

  • by anti-tech (724667) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:01PM (#7648909)

    The lawsuit concerns disclosure of a person's SSN. However, in a written response from my US Senator, I was informed that any company, anywhere can DEMAND your SSN as a condition for services, e.g. I go the the doctor's office and the doctor can require my SSN before seeing me, I apply for a lease on an apartment, the lease company can require my SSN as a condition on the application. There are absolutely no restrictions for companies requiring/requesting this information, and there are no regulations on how they must then safeguard it! I was told that if the kid cutting my grass wants my SSN as a condition, he can require it (of course this is a silly example, but is perfectly legal, according to current US laws. Either that or my Senator and the government websites I was directed to are seriously flawed.) Now, I routinely refuse to provide the info and challenge them to deny me service (with a crowded waiting room, etc), but it isn't a good way work with some businesses. (normally they just want the number because it makes it easy for assigning a unique number for their databases)

    The privacy act applies to government use of our information, not private corporations. And the SSA told me while Congress passed laws governing the use of SSN, Congress never bothered passing legislation authorizing the SSA to enforce the laws.

    If I can locate the document, I will try to provide the rest of the info, but I have to go take my blood pressure medicine.

    • by ChrisKnight (16039) <merlin&ghostwheel,com> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:25PM (#7649078) Homepage
      Two weeks ago a position opened at AT&T in my area, with a set of skill requirements that was rather hard to find in my area. Consequently I received calls from thirteen different recruiters over a three day span. I was flattered.

      Each and every one of them told me that AT&T required my SSN along with my resume in order to apply for the job. I told every one of them that it wasn't going to happen. (I only had to hang up on one for not being willing to at least accept my choice.)

      A company can, and will, demand anything they can get away with. It is up to us to take a stand and tell them that we have a right to refuse to do business with them as well.

      -Chris
    • Correct me if im wrong, but its not illegal or anything to not even get a SSN ? What happens in this case? I didnt get mine untill i was like 18. Since its legal to not own it, shouldnt it be not legal for people to force you to give it ?

      I really am asking here,not offering a point..i want input :)
  • Harm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MonkeyINAbaG (705327) <slashdot@da-bom.ELIOTcom minus poet> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:01PM (#7648910)
    even if no harm can be proven.
    How can you disprove harm in this case?
    A social security number is an American's entire life and worth, as far as law and government are concerned.
    Without it, you arent even a vote.
  • by PingXao (153057) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:04PM (#7648933)
    "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

    That's article IX or the U.S. COnstitution. The fact that trroubling issues of privacy and technology didn't arise until 220 years later doesn't mean jack shit to me. Article IX makes it quite clear that the notion of a "Right to Privacy" must certainly exist. How dare anyone disparage my beleif that it is my right? The time is drawing near when politicians who ignore the Constitution and the judges who are bought right along with them, will have to account for their actions. And I'm not talking about violence here. I'm talking about a second Constitutional Convention. Something that strikes fear into the heart of every politician and every greed head in the land.

    A Second Constitutional Convention [wikipedia.org] would do us a world of good. And possibly a world of hurt as well, but the medicine must be strong for what we've allowed this nation to mutate into. All it would take is a two-thirds vote of the states. The day is coming. It might not be right around the corner, but it is coming.
  • by panxerox (575545) * on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:05PM (#7648937)
    since databases are now copyrighted, if a company collects the info don't they now own it?
  • by gradji (188612) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:11PM (#7648974)
    The amazing thing about this whole debate is that there is no clear constitutional right for privacy (at least in the U.S.).

    Consequently, it is not clear what the basis will be for any Supreme Court judgement in this case. Usually the Supreme Court rules when two or more Constitutional rights are at odds with each other (e.g. 10th vs. 16th ... usually State's Rights (10th) is involved) ... or when a particular phrasing in the Constitution is deemed "ambiguous" (1st Amendment ... what is "speech") ... but neither is the case for privacy.

    So a key question is whether the Supreme Court, through its judgement(s), can establish such an expliit right ... or do we require Congressional action?

    Personally, I think we need more federal legislation and/or Constitional Amendments safe-guarding our privacy rights. In recent years, we've seen a piece-meal movement toward achieving such a goal (most notably, rights protecting student/criminal records) but it should be a concerted agenda. This will become a much more pressing need as the availability of sophisticated, cost-effective information technology increases. Can you imagine *physical* stores creating databases based on security camera recordings? It's not far-fetched (Vegas casinos already do it)
    • I agree that something specific needs to be done to protect the right to privacy. When the Constitution was created "privacy" almost always meant physical protection of your privacy by preventing entry to your home or workplace. And there's an Ammendment which covers that issue. The idea of an exposure of information being a violation of privacy probably would have seemed rather odd, so it's not surprising it wasn't covered.

      But I think the Supreme Court could rule on privacy because the Constitution (I _b
  • by gyratedotorg (545872) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:12PM (#7648976) Homepage

    not trying to sound like a troll, but to all the people saying that privacy is a right, i ask you this: a right granted by whom?

    fyi, the united states bill of rights [loc.gov] says absolutely nothing about privacy. neither does the constitution [house.gov]. a bit scary, but its true. look it up.

    the 4th amendment to the bill of rights sorta hints at privacy, but its obvious that our forefathers could not even begin forsee the type of privacy issues we deal with today.

    • granted by whom?

      It's an inherent right, subject to the same limitations of other inherent rights. You can

      • own a gun if you can afford one and agree to use it properly
      • speak, but don't be a public nuisance
      • believe what you wish, but don't do human sacrifices
      • have privacy, but a secret shared is no secret.

      The issue is whether the government must protect your privacy after you'vre shared your secrets with them, since the government requires you to do so.

  • Damages? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus (253617) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:24PM (#7649066) Homepage
    What damages are shown in cases of rape? What if, for example, I raped someone but was careful not to do any physical damage? I know that doesn't seem possible but just indulge me for a moment. Let's just assume such a thing was accomplished.

    Now then, if no "damage" was done, was there a crime? You're damned right!! Something was done against an unwilling individual that made them feel quite uncomfortable and would rather you hadn't done it. It was without consent, immoral and while no "damage" was done, it was still a violation of that other person's will. In fact, asside from degrees of severity, I see no difference between the crime of rape and the crime of stealing, selling or otherwise abusing my personal information. When there is so much about a person that defines a personality, I have realized that anything as simple as a [portable cell] phone number is actually a part of a person's identity... as much as a person's address, place of work, the car he drives or the people he knows. It's a part of the definition of a person. Using and abusing that person constitutes an abuse of that person.

    Is this an extreme opinion? Maybe... I don't know... it's a question of where you want to draw the line. But consider how uncomfortable you might feel about life if you knew something about yourself was out there somewhere being abused.
    • by oGMo (379)

      This is a pretty good point. And somewhat of a sad one, too. Consider the average jail time for rape is something like 3 years (and in the majority of cases none), it just goes to show the real concern of the system, and this society in general. If there isn't a large amount of money involved, your ruined life don't really matter.

      Sickening.

    • The right to be secure in one's person (as enumerated by the 4th amendment) has been violated.
  • by zaphod_es (613312) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:26PM (#7649087)
    It is about time that we all started to think about the question of compensation/damages. Far too many people seem to think it is a bit like winning the Lotto. That guy bumped me so I claim whiplash and a $1m settlement.

    People should receive fair damages or reimbursement of losses sustained through the negligence or incompetence of others. It is not right that they culprit is "fined" and the proceeds passed to the victim.

    If a Government causes damage by revealing private information it should compensate the victim even if it is only a token amount for embarrassment. If the misbehavior is so bad that it deserves a punitive settlement I see no reason for that to be paid to the victim. There are many better ways of distributing these windfalls.

    If a department loses a chunk of its budget through malicious or arrogant disclosure of personal information it might start asking who was responsible and trying to prevent future abuses. There is no need to turn it into a get rich scheme and a honeypot for ambulance chasing lawyers.

    ZB
  • The value of the lost privacy is the damages, hard to quantify in terms of its replacement value, or even market demand. Of course, the actual acts that destroy the privacy have their own legal consequences. And of course there's the breach of contract when the keeper of your info unilaterally changes the rules, especially when that's secret. If the court represents the people, it will come down hard on these acts, but the Rehnquist court has quite the tight relationship with corporations, especially "direc
  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @03:36PM (#7649166) Homepage
    If my personal information can be sold, it has value and I should always be paid for its use- the price is up to me, not the company doing the selling. (Imagine if you gave your car to a dealer to have it serviced, and when you got it back, they had installed a tracking device which delivered targetted advertising to you 24/7. Don't you need to agree to things like that before-hand? They can't just say "We've decided that the irritation you may feel is worth ten dollars, so here")

    If my information has value, no offer should be allowed to use the term "free!" if your personal information will be sold by the company. If they sell it, it has cash value to them, and so the deal is not "free".
  • We have a law since 1996, it's number 675.

    In Italy people can't collect, use, process, sell and give away your personal information without your explicit written consent collected in advance.

    For some data, the state is exempt by default (those strictly needed for tax and justice work).

    Sensitive information (sexual, religious, about health and politics, and so on) is protected by special regulation.

    Violating this law could result in penalties or prison, depending on gravity of violation.

    This is very use
    • A few months ago (I think it was September) a new law was passed, and it got even better (or worse, from a spammers point of view):

      Spammer now will be fined up to 90000 Euros and 3 years of jail

      It's a pity, 95% of spammers are located in USA, so I living in Europe can neither collect, nor sue. It would be a nice income, as I get about 200 spam-mails a day!

      :-(

  • because it is so hard to put a price on an abstract concept such as privacy or to prove damages in absence of others' misuse of that data.

    What about Intellectual Property and Copyright?

    The RIAA bills you $150.000 a song by distribution via Kazza

    SCO belives that they have such an abstract thing as Intellectual Property of the Linux kernel because they granted some companies (IBM) access to source code...

    As mentioned above about my private data: If it can be sold, it has value!

    NoSuchGuy
  • fast forward (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @05:03PM (#7649705) Homepage
    Ok, lets take a hypothetical situation here. Lets say 5 years from now this sort of thing is actually in place, where we get compensated when our privacy is abused. Big companies will obviously be hurt the most because they will be most visible. But what happens when they end up making a deal with some "third party affiliate" who has no such restrictions, or who accidentally leaks your information overseas, where there is no such compensation? And what happens if those overseas people sell the information back to the big corporations? I mean, they can claim they got the information from someone who claims you opted in, yet they're overseas so there's nothing that can be done about it.

  • by tekrat (242117) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @11:44PM (#7651642) Homepage Journal
    So, lemme get this straight.... If someone publishes personal information illegally, the most a person can sue for is $1000, *and* they have to prove damages?

    Well, so that means that if someone were to publish Michael Jackson's personal info, or Carmen Electra's home telephone number, or President Bush's cell phone, the most that any of those celebrities could get is $1000?

    I think not.

    So, *why* is Michael Jackson's right to privacy more valuable than mine? Or is this yet another issue where the rich are protected by law, but the common citizens are not protected by law?

    I think there's a huge double standard going on here, particulary if the RIAA can claim millions of dollars of damages per song, but I can't claim millions of dollars of damages when TRW sells my credit history to a telemarketer.

    I think there's a huge double standard going on here, if celebrities can sue for privacy, but the average joe cannot.
  • I believe privacy-sensitive information should be treated as a form of intellectual property [jerf.org]; it's the only thing that makes sense.

    (Sure, I could copy and paste it, but Slashdot would probably get annoyed at the length.)

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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