Should individual claims of privacy be valued above claims of societal welfare?

Answer

1) Yes personal privacy is one of the greates gifts of the constitution. I prefer privacy over security, however due to the current feelings in the U.S. and it's liberal leanings I doubt that there will ever be true personal privacy again.

2) Another view: One of the founding fathers (Benjamin Franklin) voiced the oft-quoted maxim: One who gives up liberty for security soon has neither.

Privacy is certainly of great value and is protected by various laws and statutes. However, it is not a concept with fixed and never changing parameters. Rather it varies in concept over time and with different perspectives. Therefore, the interpretation of privacy must be consideration a part of a never ending evolution of social perception, and rules relating to privacy -like the US Constitution- by necessity be a "living document".

The concept of privacy is currently being re-thought because identity theft and intellectual property rights are becoming more common. Government has an obligation to protect its citizenry but it also needs to violate citizens privacy in order to control society. The tug-of-war between control and freedom create ever-changing privacy parameters.

While the U.S. Constitution does addres search and siezure laws, grand jury indictments and general rights afforded to citizens of the United States and those who visit the country legally as well as illegally do not confuse these restraints on government as a right to privacy. We have a right to be secure in our papers, the right to practice religion, not to be imposed upon by housing military troops without compensation and a liberty clause that has been very broadly interpreted by courts as a quasi right to personal privacy. But there is no direct mention of outright privacy in the Constitution and those that characterize it as such are giving opinion, not facts.