David Seipp on Themes of the Nineteenth-Century Rhetoric of Privacy
In his late 1970s work, The Right to Privacy in American History, David J. Seipp argues that the “unity of the privacy phenomenon” in the nineteenth century came not from a singleness of motive, but rather from “a unity of language” (Seipp 116).
Sex and Eugenics Sterilization
In looking through Johanna Schoen’s 2005 book, Choice & Coercion: Birth Control, Sterilization, and Abortion in Public Health and Welfare, it appears that, although eugenics-based sterilization procedures in the early-to-mid twentieth century appear to have targeted women more than men, men were also sterilized through these programs.
The “third-party problem”: one reason telegrams were not constitutionally protected
Unlike postal mail or, later, the telephone, telegrams never received constitutional protection. Yet they were the quintessential nineteenth-century technology of communication, used extensively for business, government, and personal communication, much of which both senders and receivers would have wished to keep to themselves.
Universities UK, sex segregation, and the public-private distinction
Misunderstanding the different balances required in private vs. public spheres was one of the fundamental misunderstandings of the recent Universities UK guidance, which argued that speakers’ freedom of religion and speech could trump anti-discrimination laws at on-campus debates — meaning that audiences might be segregated by sex.
Musings on law, technology, and privacy
I’ve been working on my dissertation for a few months now (it looks at American privacy law over some 150 years, and investigates how technology interacts with that law). Some of that work will emerge here in draft form eventually, but for now I’ve been thinking about the theoretical/critical framework for my work. Much of this framework will be implicit — since I’m writing a dissertation in history — but it will guide me nonetheless. It will develop throughout the writing process, but here are some initial thoughts.
NSA spying is not clearly unconstitutional
I’ve been noticing a trend to call the activities of the NSA — as revealed by Edward Snowden — “clearly unconstitutional.” I disagree.
The irony of liberty of contract: normalizing federal intervention
“Liberty of contract” had originally been envisioned as a means of protecting individual rights from government interference, but decisions implementing it ended up justifying federal government intervention.
“I can’t help myself, I’m a man” — rape apologia, circa 1840
Does this rape defense sound familiar to anyone else? “Man is susceptible to the inclinations of the female sex.”
Sidewalk chalk on trial: the Jeff Olson jury acquittal
A prosecutor has to prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt — and if they don’t, then a jury is expected to acquit.