Book Summary: Chapter 6

Privacy protection is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly; especially in the eyes of journalists. With the rise of social media, it is easier to share information that may have seemed almost impossible. Reporters tend to dehumanize situations when they have a camera in their face. They must take a moment to realize when they may be going too far.

In this chapter, privacy is talked about with respect to court hearings and public knowledge. When exactly does a crime, regardless of its size, become public knowledge and when is it not needed information.

“The U.S. Congress has adopted privacy laws, but traditionally most of these relate to access to information in government documents. Recent Supreme Court cases (for example, Riley v. California, excerpted at the end of the chapter) focus on privacy and the Fourth Amendment. Two Supreme Court decisions in 2012 and 2013 that explored privacy and the Fourth Amendment (which protects against unreasonable search and seizure) reaffirmed the traditional privacy expectation near the home and unanimously held that physically mounting a GPS transmitter on a car amounts to a search and violates the Fourth Amendment” – Chapter Overview

This text, taken from the chapter overview, is a great reference point for someone wanting to dive a little deeper into the role of the U.S. Government and privacy laws. Over the years, privacy laws have grown so sophisticated that some people fear sharing anything at all. There are so many variances in the laws that when someone does report, they could get in trouble for something that may be against the law.

William Prosser, then the dean of Boalt Law School at the University of California at Berkeley, proposed that invasion of privacy be broken into the four categories we know today: false light, appropriation, intrusion, and private facts.

– Below these four categories are described below:

False Light: Intentionally or recklessly publicizing false information a reasonable person would find highly offensive

Appropriation: Using another’s name or likeness for advertising or other commercial purposes without permission

Intrusion:  Intentionally intruding on another’s solitude or seclusion

Private Facts: Private facts are publicizing private, embarrassing information

Appropriation can be split down even more; the first would be commercialization and secondly the right of publicity. Commercialization is related to famous and ordinary people. Intrusion, on the other hand – is a much broader term. “At first, intrusion was nearly synonymous with trespass, i.e., physical invasion of another’s land or house. Then it came to include technological forms of invasion of privacy. Essentially, the intrusion tort has become a way to sue the media for news-gathering techniques”

The problem with these laws a lot of the time is journalists can be sued for doing exactly what they were hired to do.


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