Is The Right to Privacy Compromised via Emails, Text, Cell Phones or Browsing the Internet?

Dating back to 1789, the Bill of Rights was enacted establishing personal freedoms to protect the public from and thereby limit the Federal Government. Not very long after, the states ratified these laws so these freedoms applied equally to action by state governments. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was adopted in response to the abuses of the British government and to prevent unlawful searches and seizures. The earlier decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the 4th Amendment to bar actual and physical intrusion by law enforcement into &/or on one’s private property. Later decisions, however, rightfully expanded the limitations on the government to our individual rights to privacy.

But the question of governmental intrusion is no longer the only conundrum we face in society. There is what could be labeled a scourge of interference in our right to privacy through expanded and invisible electronic surveillance (for the purpose of this blog, however, the author is not referencing CCTV or other types of concealed commercial video cameras).

Focusing instead on the internet, our email, cell phones and text messages, have you given any thought to the impact on our right to privacy, a concern that did not exist during the previous four centuries? Today, businesses are extracting information from the content of our messages, whether email, text, cell phone or simply browsing (surfing) the internet. They are recording the words we use and the places we visit to build profiles of who we are and our interests, collecting the data and selling it to other companies.

Should you have a concern that businesses and individuals are able to and actually monitor and secretly eavesdrop into our private lives? For example, one decides to go online to research the availability and prices for binoculars for an outdoor event they intend to obtain tickets for, an otherwise ordinary and uneventful activity. The next time that individual searches the internet for something totally different, even a newsworthy article, there will be advertisement banners for binoculars in the headers of the pages. Similarly, customer data in our emails are scanned by the various email providers and soon thereafter one will view contextual advertisements dealing with words and subjects that otherwise one might believe his/her emails were totally private and protected.

What do you think? Should your personal information be your own? Should you have a right to privacy and expect that what you view online, what you write or receive in an email or text is not accessed by anyone, whether government, business or any private individual? Should heretofore unidentified companies know everything about us, our interests, our family and friends, under the stated goal to sell advertisements that are intended to solicit our business? Is there a risk of fraud &/or unlawful activity well beyond what may seem an ostensible commercial purpose when data mining produces what we heretofore believed were our very private personal profiles? You be the judge.


Recently, a non-profit organization that studies death penalties surveyed the counties in the United States to rank the current number of death row inmates. Los Angeles County had the most inmates who had death sentences at 228 and, therefore, was number 1. San Diego County had 40 such inmates, but came in the top 10 counties along with Orange, Riverside and Alameda Counties.


California has the largest number of death row inmates in the United States with 725. In sharp contrast, the state of Texas has no death row inmates, having 38% of the executions in the nation. The last execution in San Diego was in 1992. California has had an unofficial moratorium on executions since 2006. More recently, a Court of Appeals Decision in May, 2013 now requires California to adopt a new lethal injection protocol since the three-drug lethal injection protocol was held to be not in compliance with administrative rules. Governor Jerry Brown has under consideration a single-drug lethal injection protocol. Due to the administrative law process, it could take a year or longer to approve the new protocol. Nonetheless, the single-drug manufacturers object to their use in lethal injections; this creates an additional hurdle once the method is approved.


In 1976, the US Supreme Court in the case of Gregg vs. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (Case #74-6257) determined the death penalty (capital punishment) is legal and valid within the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution.

Those who oppose the imposition of the death penalty, however, argue it is morally wrong and in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution as it is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. They also argue it is randomly applied and, therefore, arbitrary. For those that think it cost less than a prison life sentence, the opposite is true—as it has been reported that the cost of capital punishment can be 10 times more than life in prison without parole.

On the other hand, proponents argue punishment must be consistent with the severity of the crime, and point to the fact the US Supreme Court has prohibited the death penalty for all crimes except murder. In addition, it has prohibited the mandatory imposition of the death penalty, thereby allowing the jury to decide\ whether to impose a lesser sentence after considering all of the mitigating facts and circumstances. For example, the minimum age at the time of the homicide currently is seventeen.

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