From seeking medical treatment to using the telephone, from applying for a job to sending email over the Internet, our right to privacy is in peril. The same technological advances that have brought enormous benefits to humanity also make us vulnerable to unwarranted intrusions into our private lives. The right to privacy includes the right to control information about ourselves, including data obtained through existing and new technologies. To uphold this right, the ACLU-NJ adopts the following principles:
Anyone who keeps personal information about you for commercial purposes owes a duty to disclose to you their policies and practices.
Personal information should be accurate, and you should have the right to examine, copy, and correct or dispute personal information about yourself.
You have the right to expect that your personal information will be protected by security safeguards against such risks as loss, unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure.
Commercial Data Collection
Your personal information should never be extracted, maintained, or disseminated by any non-governmental entity without your knowledge and permission. Organizations must let you know why they're collecting your information, and they can't use it for reasons other than the one you gave permission for (unless they get a new permission from you). Moreover, you have the right not to have irrelevant information, such as your Social Security Number, extracted from you as a condition for engaging in transactions with organizations and institutions, such as employers, insurance companies, and other commercial entities.
Government Use of Information
Government agencies may collect and store personally identifiable information only when necessary to a legitimate governmental interest. The fact that a government agency may have been justified in collecting such information does not justify maintaining or disclosing the information if not necessary for a legitimate government purpose.
Privacy in Public
You have a right to a private self, even when you are in a public place. This includes a right to be free from pervasive government surveillance.
You have a right to a legal remedy for unjustified privacy violations.
Adopted February 27, 2002
American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey
Board of Trustees