Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the Never-Ending End of Privacy

The unprecedented government surveillance that surfaced in the summer brought the perennial clash between technology and privacy to a new level.

Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, writing in the Harvard Law Review, expressed concern over privacy infringements threatened by new technology: “Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step which must be taken for the protection of the person, and for securing to the individual...the right ‘to be let alone,’ ” they wrote. 

The year was 1890, and the inventions Warren and Brandeis cited were “instantaneous photographs” and devices for “reproducing scenes or sounds.” Those innovations now sound quaint, but the concerns they raised are fresher than ever...