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Chapter 2. WHAT IS PRIVACY IN A DIGITAL WORLD? > The Right to Be Left Alone…

The Right to Be Left Alone…

“[Privacy is] the right to be left alone—the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by a free people.”

Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. United States (1928)

Justice Brandeis' definition has for many years been the classic definition. It is one many of us can relate to. Especially when we receive unwanted commercial e-mail, or coupons for a product related to a medical condition that we only shared with our pharmacist. It is the basis for the general understanding of privacy in modern life. Most people, when asked to define privacy, give an answer much like Brandeis'. This is a definition that includes more than just freedom, however. It describes the right to benefit from life and the fruits of one's life, without interference from others. Justice Brandeis outlined this basic right as


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