Whether we want to or not, we now live in a world with unlimited access to information through seemingly endless means. From social media to twenty-four hour news cycles, no one seems to lead a “private” life.
Even though many of us intentionally reveal our private information by displaying our latest photos or clicking “yes” to share our information with marketers, we are forced to battle against cyber criminals and social ruin in the process. Yet the U.S. Constitution never mentions the word “privacy” despite our continuous repetition of the phrase my right to privacy.
The U.S. Supreme Court has clearly interpreted the law to include a right to privacy; particularly as it relates to government intrusion. Police need warrants supported by probable cause before they can enter a person’s home and state officials cannot force journalists to reveal their sources.
But what about protecting our privacy from predators online and overzealous businesses attempting to exploit us? While that question continues to be debated and slowly chiseled into law, there have been several statutes enacted to do just that.
There is not one single law that can protect your right to privacy. Instead, there are a series of laws that cover different aspects of privacy, for example:
Yes, many states have passed legislation or created laws to protect you from misinformation about your records or to prevent others from obtaining your personal information unlawfully.
Some states like California go further than the federal Fair Debt Collections Act by regulating the practices of the original debt owner in an effort to protect consumers. At least ten states have included the right to privacy as a constitutional provision: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, South Carolina, and the state of Washington.
That depends on the nature of the suit and who you are trying to keep your information private from. Many local jurisdictions protect the identity of children in custody battles or child abuse prosecutions by requiring such information to be shielded from public view. And many judges may issue a “gag rule” on the parties, witnesses and members of the press regarding what happens in court in a highly publicized case.
However, many people are concerned about the opposing party accessing their private information. In that case, it is very difficult to protect your personal information from the opposing party.
Even when you are not a party to a lawsuit, you may still be compelled by subpoena power of the courts to disclose personal information if it is related to a case in which you are a potential witness. In deciding whether to require such disclosures of private information, the courts are required to balance the state’s interest in obtaining the information and the individual’s right to privacy.
Even when such a balancing test favors disclosure, you may still be able to have certain details redacted or hidden from view such as account numbers or social security numbers when they may be part of a larger record.
If you are being compelled to disclose such information, you may be able to file a protective order to prevent the disclosure, request that the judge review the information in chambers first before the information is sent to the other party, and/or request the information disclosed be shielded from public view once disclosed to the requesting party.
Many of the federal laws listed above have enforcement provisions. If you believe a person, company or agency has violated a federal law, you may be able to file a claim or at least report the violation in which the government may fine the wrongdoer.
Yes. If you are being compelled to provide private information involved in a court case, an attorney may be able to assist you with filing a protective order and other requests to protect your information from further disclosure.
A civil rights attorney may also be able to represent you in a claim against a person, company or agency that has violated state or federal privacy statutes.
Last Modified: 11-21-2018 09:43 PM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.