THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY, by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy. ISBN 0-679-41986-1.

Privacy, an individual right not found in the Constitution, over the years has been tortuously argued, defined, and redefined, by both legislatures and courts. Privacy is an abstract concept, the right to privacy is necessarily limited by other considerations, and consequently the issues are extremely difficult. Alderman and Kennedy (yes -- JFK's daughter) do an admirable job of explaining where generations of legislators and judges have led us. The journey is not yet ended.

Six privacy areas are explored, law enforcement (what are you required to tell the officer when he asks?), your person (right to die cases), the press (can a TV camera follow a "breaking news story" into your private residence?), the voyeur (what recourse do you have against a peeping tom?), the workplace (does your employer have a right to know you might be following an alternative life style?), and information (what about your medical records? Who has a right to see them?). In each area, several different situations are explored and court cases examined. The authors, both attorneys, collaborate on an excellently written and always absorbing narrative, many stories in full, many more in outline. The book holds the reader's attention; the cases are such that one usually cannot guess the outcome.

Some of the many questions addressed in this book:

Is it legal for the police to strip search you after a routine traffic stop? Can your employer fire you for smoking while not on the job? Can a woman who smokes pot when pregnant be prosecuted for providing drugs to a fetus? Who is entitled to make life decisions for you when you are comatose? Can a picture of you be used on a magazine cover without your consent? How about a picture of you (clothed) inside a porn magazine? What if the Rico Bugle runs an “ugliest person in Rico” contest and you win the prize (a can of dog food)? Can you sue? Who do you sue? Would you win?

The answers may surprise you.

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