American Privacy: The 400-Year History of Our Most Contested by Frederick S. Lane

By Frederick S. Lane

A sweeping tale of the fitting to privateness because it sped alongside colonial postal routes, telegraph wires, and today’s fiber-optic cables on a collision path with presidents and programmers, librarians and letter-writers.

''The background of the United States is the background of the proper to privacy,'' writes Frederick S. Lane during this shiny and penetrating exploration of our so much hotly debated constitutional correct. From Governor William Bradford beginning colonists’ mail certain for England, to President George W. Bush’s expansive household wiretapping, the motivations at the back of executive surveillance have replaced little regardless of quick advances in communications know-how. but all too frequently, americans were their very own worst enemies by way of holding privateness, compliantly forgoing civil liberties in severe occasions of battle in addition to for daily client conveniences. each one folks now contributes to an ever-evolving digital file of on-line buying sprees, photograph albums, overall healthiness documents, and political contributions, obtainable to nearly somebody who cares to seem. In a digitized global the place facts lives without end, Lane urges us to contemplate no matter if privateness is even available. How did we arrive at this brink?

American Privacy strains the lineage of cultural norms and felony mandates that experience swirled round the Fourth modification due to the fact its adoption. In 1873, the advent of postcards break up American opinion of public propriety. Over a century later, Twitter takes its position at the spectrum of human connection. among those nodes, Anthony Comstock waged an ethical campaign opposed to obscene literature, George Orwell penned 1984, Joseph McCarthy hunted Communists and ''perverts,'' President Richard Nixon surveilled himself correct out of place of work, and the very best court docket of the USA issued its such a lot influential criminal evaluations in regards to the correct to privateness to this point. Captured right here, those old snapshots upload as much as a full of life narration of privacy’s champions and challengers.

Legally, technologically, and traditionally grounded, American Privacy concludes with a decision for Congress to acknowledge how innovation and infringement pass hand-in-hand, and a problem to electorate to guard privateness prior to it truly is misplaced thoroughly.

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Additional info for American Privacy: The 400-Year History of Our Most Contested Right

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In response to the “Boston Tea Party,” a Sons of Liberty–led raid on three East India Company ships trying to land boycotted tea in Boston, the outraged British Parliament wasted no time in punishing its increasingly rebellious and defiant colony. On March 31, 1774, the Boston Port Act was passed, shutting Boston Harbor until the value of the destroyed tea (roughly $2 million in today’s dollars) was paid to the East India Company. Several other punitive laws followed in swift succession: the Massachusetts Government Act, which essentially abolished Massachusetts colonial and local government; the Administration of Justice Act, which authorized Governor Hutchinson to transfer the trial of any British official accused of a crime to a venue outside of Massachusetts (including as far away as Britain), thus making it much more expensive and difficult for colonists to appear as plaintiffs or witnesses; and a second Quartering Act, which The Declaration of Privacy gave any colonial governor the authority to appropriate unoccupied buildings to house British troops.

Through the efforts of the New England senators, most notably Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, the Gag Bill was rejected by the Senate upon third reading. The primary concern was for the law’s impact on the First Amendment, but Webster also warned of its impact on personal privacy. An individual’s right to private papers, Webster said, including those delivered through the mail, was protected by every nation in the free world and should not be abridged in this one. S. Post Office to exclude officially disfavored materials from delivery through the mails, but his victory was more symbolic than substantive.

In the wake of the Seven Years’ War, which formally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris on February 10, 1763, the British government found itself deeply in debt and struggling to cover the continued costs of housing and feeding soldiers in the colonies. According to George Grenville, first lord of the treasury and chancellor of the exchequer, the British national debt had doubled during the course of the Seven Years’ War to £140 million. Grenville was of the opinion that the colonies should bear part of the burden of paying down the debt and supporting troops stationed within their borders.

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