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The Two Western Cultures of Privacy: Dignity versus Liberty, 113 Yale Law Journal 1151 (2004)


In every corner of the Western world, writers proclaim "privacy" as a supremely important human good, as a value somehow at the core of what makes life worth living. Without our privacy, we lose "our very integrity as persons," Charles Fried declared over thirty-five years ago. Many others have since agreed that privacy is somehow fundamental to our "personhood. It is a commonplace, moreover, that our privacy is peculiarly menaced by the evolution of modem society, with its burgeoning technologies of surveillance and inquiry. Commentators paint this menace in very dark colors: Invasions of our privacy are said to portend a society of "horror, " to "injure [us] in [our] very humanity, '' or even to threaten "totalitarianism," and the establishment of law protecting privacy is accordingly declared to be a matter of fundamental rights.6 It is the rare privacy advocate who resists citing Orwell when describing these dangers.

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