Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Corporate and Industrial Communications



First Advisor

Michael Castro

Second Advisor

John Knoll

Third Advisor

Ben Kuehnle


This thesis will focus on the issue of personal privacy and the growing threat to its existence in a technological society.

The areas most associated with privacy loss include increased government intrusions, legislation, workplace, healthcare industry, Internet, and identity theft. Chapter one provides a historical perspective beginning with primitive culture and their struggle to maintain privacy in the lives. Interesting enough, privacy protection was not mentioned by the judicial system until 1880 when privacy was defined as the "right to be left alone." To address concerns about privacy reform the Supreme Court cited this right of privacy as having " its foundation in the instincts of nature" and as being "therefore derived from natural law."

Few Americans realize that the landmark Roe v. Wade was not a decision whether a mother could have an abortion. The heart of the case dealt with a mother's right to have total control over her body. The Court believed they found this right embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process clause.

Chapter two focuses on research done by the major writers and thinkers associated with privacy protection. The American Civil Liberties Union is one such party that is concerned about protecting the rights promised to Americans in the Constitution. The ACLU shows many instances where the Clinton Administration is pushing for less privacy for Americans. The ACLU claims attempts to undermine privacy can be seen as the administration tries to implement a national identification card. An individual's complete medical, financial, and personal history could be contained in such an identifier.

Chapter three is an in-depth inspection of the three most profound writers of privacy refom1. ln their book, The Right to Privacy, EIlen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy bring their own unique perspectives as to what privacy means to them. Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy bas been in the glare of the public spotlight all her life. Alderman bad taken privacy for granted, until recently, when she experienced its loss.

A second profound source in chapter three is Judith Wagner DeCew. She is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Clark University. Her discussion of privacy focuses on the ethical ramifications associated with privacy invasion. DeCew is vehemently opposed to drug testing in the workplace. She believes there needs to be a balance between the employers and the employee's rights.

Rounding out the literature review is The Limits of Privacy by Amitai Etzioni. He is currently a Professor at George Washington University. His book questions such topics as: Under which moral, legal. and societal conditions should this right to privacy be curbed. He also was a senior advisor to the Wl1ite House during the Carter administration. His political background offers a unique perspective to the issue of privacy.

Chapter four focuses on experiences involving the loss of personal privacy by my family and myself. This privacy loss begins for many when a Social security mumber is assigned. This number bas really become a defacto national identifier. This number is used for driver's license, credit history, school identification number, and many other ways not originally intended. Personal interviews with State Rep. Rich Chrismer, Denise Lieberman of the ACLU, and Dan Wilson, director of library Services for the St. Louis Public Library provide specific examples of what these particular groups and individuals are doing to protect privacy.

Chapter five is a proposed blueprint for privacy reform offered by the author. Researching the historical significance of privacy and how it relates to the privacy concerns of today aided the author. The major writers and thinkers on the subject of privacy reform, gave the author both historical and contemporary viewpoints from which to draw change and shape conclusions. Proposed solutions focus on the areas of government legislation, healthcare, workplace, Internet, and identity theft.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

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