Over 130 years ago, a young lawyer saw an amazing new gadget and had a revolutionary vision — technology can threaten our privacy.
“Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step which must be taken for the protection of the person,” wrote the lawyer, Louis Brandeis, warning that laws needed to keep up with technology and new means of surveillance, or Americans would lose their “right to be left alone.”
Decades later the right to privacy discussed in that 1890 law review article and Brandeis’s opinions as a Supreme Court justice, especially in the context of new technology, would be cited as a foundational principle of the constitutional protections for many rights, including contraception, same-sex intimacy and abortion.
Now the Supreme Court seems poised to rule that there is no constitutional protection for the right to abortion. Surveillance made possible by minimally-regulated digital technologies could help law enforcement track down women who might seek abortions and medical providers who perform them in places where it would become criminalized. Women are urging one another to delete phone apps like period trackers that can indicate they are pregnant.”