Seek and Hide

Seek and Hide: The Tangled History of the Right to Privacy

Amy Gajda


We live in a world where we know more about each other than ever before. New technologies, social media and data analytics all contribute to the feeling that very little in our lives is private anymore. Amy Gajda, a law professor and former journalist, argues that the right to privacy has always existed as a legal concept in this country in some form since 1690. Even the fact that information is truthful and has been shared with others does not mean that we forfeit a right to keep that information out of the public domain. "Our right to privacy---the right to decide our public face and who we are in our most intimate moments even when we have shared those moments with others--is not a right born of today's new and invasive technologies but has long persisted as a counterbalance to truth and press and speech freedoms and the right to know."

"Hide and Seek: The Tangled History of the Right to Privacy" tracks the evolution of privacy rights from the publication of Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis first formulation of a privacy right published in the Harvard Law Review in 1890 through the end of President Trump's term of office in 2021. Ms. Gajda's history is traced primarily through the relevant case law and yet this is not a dry lawyerly tome. Along the way we learn about President Grover Cleveland and President Warren G Harding's love lives, the careers of crusading journalists like Nellie Bly, Ida Tarbell and muckraking author Upton Sinclair, and reality TV. This is a good read for those interested in legal history, American history, journalism and civil rights.