Right to Privacy Vs Public safety

Introduction to privacy

An individual’s privacy is that space left for an individual to make decisions on and hold other basic principles that govern his/her life. No one including the other individuals should interfere with the individuals privacy and incase this happens legal action can be taken by the individual and get redress through the court.

In the United States the rights to privacy are entrenched in the Bill of Rights, many other countries have a bill of rights to which highlight the rights of an individual though they may vary in detail depending on the democracy and the view generally held by individuals in these countries or republics.

The United States constitution states that citizens should be free from unwanted and unwarranted governmental interference, thus the summary of the bill of rights is an enumeration of specific freedoms from the governmental interference, protected by judicial guardianship. Although the constitution lacks any textual reference to privacy, several of the amendments protect individuals in their privacy. The first amendment guarantees freedom of conscience in both religious and political matters and freedom of association. The third and fourth Amendments protect the privacy of the home. The Fifth Amendment shields the privacy of one’s thoughts.(Glenn 2003).

There are two types of privacy that is the tort privacy which is a private or civil injury to a person, property, or reputation. Under this law the individual who has been injured can bring a law suit against the wrong doer, requesting remedy through the court. The other type of privacy is the constitutional privacy. This has been defined as the right of the individual to be free from unwanted and unwarranted government interference.

Right to Privacy Vs Public safety

Privacy of an individual is a valued condition and if provided in a sufficiently democratic society has the following functions, personal autonomy, emotional release, self evaluation and limited and protected communication.

Public safety

Public safety involves safeguard of harm causing activities or events to the general public, these harm causing activities can be internally or externally generated and involve either natural or unnatural activities, terrorism etc.

This is mainly the role of the government as it is charged with the responsibility of ensuring security for the individuals who appointed them , besides this the government has ample resources that would ensure that individuals are protected either from internal or external aggression.(Johnson 2005)

The state ensures that individuals are protected by putting in place the required structure which ensures security personnel are equipped properly both in terms of knowledge and material wise to protect the general public. Thus when we talk of public safety we are talking of this general public which is looked after by the state personnel. The safety of these individuals though is not fully within the hands of the government this is because the government relies on information provided by them to help curb the insecurity level.

As we have looked at the relation it is a chain that revolves around the government and its people but one which the government is officially charged with the responsibility of overseeing

Right to Privacy Vs Public safety

safety among its populace and in the other case the individuals are kind of looking at the responsibility as a voluntary activity.( Ortmeier 2002).

Privacy versus Public safety

The privacy of the individual as I have detailed is aimed at ensuring that the individual his safeguarded against others who may want to harm or inconvenience his life, in the other case the public safety issue is concerned more with the overall individuals who may form a state or any other administrative unit.

It is however not easy to alienate these factors as a person who interferes with another persons privacy may also be said to be causing public unrest though this is dependent with the scale of his activities.

The other issue that comes into mind when we look at the two jointly is the extent of privacy that has no consequence to the public safety. On this the bill of rights gives these rights to an individual with the hope that the individuals exercise absolute responsibility to en sure that these freedoms do not affect the situation of other individuals either harm them physically or psychologically, again it expects people to make wise decisions on factors that may touch on others.( Glen 2003).

Thus public safety is only a concern when individuals decide to misuse the freedoms given to them by the bill of rights, and it is not until this point that the state interferes to protect the individual or the public(incase of a wide scale). Some cases can never constitute public safety postulates these are of tort nature as they involve an individual with an other. However the constitutional aspect of the individual if has an effect on a large number of people it attracts public safety concerns. One thing though is certain, constitutional privacy does not mean the right of the individual to do as he pleases this is because absolute freedom would make a

Right to Privacy Vs Public safety

civilized society impossible as it would lead to an obvious infringement of individual freedoms which may in the long run lead to concerns of public safety.


Glenn R. (2003). The right to privacy: rights and liberties under the law. Juvenile literature California.

Johnson R. (2005). Private Safety and Public Safety, Digital book.

Ortmeier P. (2002).Public Safety and Administration.Butterworth-Heineman, New  York.