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Video: Jeffrey Rosen at Chautauqua on privacy in the digital age

July 10, 2014 by NCC Staff


Jeff ChautauquaJeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, examined the constitutional implications of digital technology and surveillance in a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution.

In his wide-ranging presentation to an audience of more than 2,000 visitors to the shores of Chautauqua Lake in southwestern New York, Rosen explored the full scope of American history, tracing the main inspiration for the Fourth Amendment to the saga of John Wilkes, an Englishman convicted of seditious libel in 1763 based on evidence obtained through the use of general warrants.

Rosen then considered the Supreme Court’s record on privacy, including Justice Louis Brandeis’ influential 1890 article in the Harvard Law Review and two recent cases before the Court, United States v. Jones and Riley v. California—both of which resulted in unanimous decisions in defense of privacy rights.

He also identified a May ruling by the European Court of Justice establishing “the right to be forgotten,” and the constitutionally unchecked activities of technology behemoths like Google and Facebook, as areas of primary concern for all citizens in the coming years.

“If people experience what it’s actually like to live in the panopticon, where everything they do is accessible to others without ability to control it, I think people will demand privacy,” Rosen told The Chautauquan Daily. “The possibility of 24/7 tracking in public places becomes real and that is a form of transparency that citizens are not going to want to tolerate.”

Watch the lecture below or on YouTube.

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