Is TMZ Worse Than The NSA?


Donald Sterling’s private telephone conversation.  George Clooney’s engagement party.  Jay-Z and Solangé’s elevator scuffle.  Is TMZ invading privacy rights more than the NSA?

The California Constitution, Article 1, Section 1 states that each citizen has an “inalienable right” to pursue and obtain “privacy.”   Shouldn’t this apply to everyone equally; even the Donald Sterling’s, Jay-Z’s, Beyoncé’s and George Clooney’s of the world?

Privacy rights are constantly changing and everyone has a different view on what should and should not be private.  Whether we like to admit it or not, many of us probably listened to the Sterling audio, watched the Jay-Z/Solangé video, and searched for pictures of George Clooney’s engagement party.  There is something intriguing about peering into the life of another, even if it is just for a moment. 

Celebrities and public figures may have a lower expectation of privacy than the average person, but they do not expect their telephone conversations to be broadcast over and over again.  Just as ordinary people would not expect their private telephone conversations to be recorded and broadcast. 

When it comes to privacy, the National Security Agency (NSA) justifies its sweeping collection of citizen’s data as necessary to protect America’s citizens.  However, TMZ would be hard-pressed to argue it is invading privacy rights for any reason other than profit.  TMZ has a newsfeed on its website that is constantly updated with “news,” mostly consisting of articles, pictures and videos violating the privacy of their chosen celebrities of the week.  TMZ has an entire show dedicated to broadcasting this “news.” 

TMZ goes to great lengths to get snippets from the non-public lives of celebrities with no regard for privacy.  However, is TMZ to blame?  As consumers, we create a demand for these items.  We are essentially promoting the invasion of privacy.  However, when it comes to the NSA’s possibly monitoring our private activities in the name of safety, we throw up our arms in outrage. 

NSA and TMZ may both be players in the continuing struggle for privacy rights. However, at least the NSA isn’t serving our telephone conversations and elevator footage on the proverbial silver platter for public consumption.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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