Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

The Next 10 Amendments: Do we need more laws to protect privacy?

June 17, 2013 by NCC Staff


As part of our “Next 10 Amendments” debate series, we’re asking our readers if it’s time for a constitutional amendment to protect their privacy.


Rectangle_logo-02The furor in the past two weeks over government eavesdropping on the media and citizens has raised a lot of questions related to the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment.


Government actions to monitor the phone records of the Associated Press and track the activities of a Fox News reporter started a debate about the First Amendment.


And last week’s revelations about widespread government collection of phone call data—followed by broader claims about data collection involving the Internet—started a whole new argument about the Fourth Amendment.


Those are just a few of the issues about privacy that have been debated over the past year. There’s also the pesky issue of drones and other forms of technology that can do much good, but also cause massive privacy invasions in the wrong circumstances. And there’s the issue of when and how police can enter your home.


As for the government surveillance programs, the Obama administration and Congress members say the activities of the National Security Agency are approved and monitored by all three government branches, in accordance with the Constitution.


In past court decisions, the Fourth Amendment has been applied to support privacy rights—to learn more about the evolution of privacy rights, National Constitution Center president Jeffrey Rosen suggests the five must-read books about privacy issues that are now all too contemporary.


What do you think: Do we need more safeguards in the Constitution to protect citizens’ privacy and clearly limit the government’s powers to monitor citizens?


Here’s how you can participate in our project:


1. Check out the resources in the sidebar at right to learn more about the historical context and current events related to this issue.

2. In the comments below, share your thoughts and explore what others are saying. (Please keep your comments respectful and on topic.)

3. Check back each week for the latest discussion topic.

4. In early September, cast your vote in a referendum on potential amendments, gathered from participant comments.


Our discussion is moderated by Chris Phillips, research fellow of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania and executive director of the nonprofit organization Democracy Café.


Now, it’s your turn to weigh in: Do we need to add an amendment about privacy for the 21st century and beyond?


(Note to readers on Yahoo! News: If you want to take part in the debate, use this link and comment at the end of the story:


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