Technology provides unprecedented access to information, links people around the world and gives voice to those who might not otherwise be heard. However, if deployed without adequate protections for privacy and free speech, it can become a tool that tramples constitutional rights.
From protecting privacy and free speech on the Internet to pushing back against censorship and government surveillance, the ACLU works to safeguard civil liberties as society harnesses the benefits of new technology.
Right to Privacy
The words “right to privacy” do not appear in the Constitution. But beginning in the 1920s, the U.S. Supreme Court drew upon several of the Amendments to defend what Justice Brandeis famously called the “right to be left alone.”
Perhaps no other constitutional right has been so challenged by technology and national security concerns.
In a world of social networking, online commerce, shared electronic medical records, data breaches and identity theft, internet tracking, and digital data up to our eyeballs – it is tempting to see privacy as a quaint and outdated notion.
Keeping Up with Technology
Our constitutional protections must keep pace with advances in technology. Currently, this is not happening. Our “right to be left alone” will become obsolete unless we can devise appropriate privacy protections for the digital age and a balance between security and liberty that is both effective and preserves our basic values.
Equally important is the ACLU work to protect freedom of speech and access to all the information that is available online to everyone. We cannot allow government regulation to restrict speech or slow access anywhere on the Internet.