Privacy Rights? No.

From: A
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2017 1:39 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Libertarian question about information
Hi Walter, Hope this email finds you well! I just thought of a question about information that I don’t know how to resolve. When we go to a restaurant and order a dish, we aren’t told about the full details of the cooking process, the exact portions of various ingredients, etc., and this is considered fine. But if the restaurant puts some (hopefully mild) poison in the dish and doesn’t tell us about that, this may be a violation of the tacit contract. But this question becomes harder to resolve when we exit the realm of contractual transactions. Suppose A invites B to his home and lets her shower there (all this is free of charge, as a sort of “gift”) but does not tell B that there is a camera filming her in the shower. As there is no contract here (not even a tacit one), B cannot complain that A is violating any contract and committing fraud. So the question is: how much information is A obliged to reveal to B? I mean, surely A doesn’t have to tell B about every piece of furniture and every item in the house. But does A have to tell B about the existence of the camera in the shower, under libertarian law? Thanks a lot! A

Dear A: I think there is a tacit agreement, perhaps not a contract, but a legal agreement, that A has with his invitee, B. For example, he can’t murder her, just because she is now on his property. He can’t rape her. I think it also includes he can’t take a picture of her, not only when she is in the shower, but even at all, without her permission. Of course, he need not tell her about every stick of furniture in his apartment. Where do I get this from? From culture, from expectations, that are typical when a guy invites a girl to his abode. Of course, there is a continuum, there always is, even given the same culture. For example, may he put his hand over her shoulder, or grab her hand, without her permission when they are sitting on his couch? According to our leftist friends, he must explicitly ask her if he may do so. He must get her to sign an explicit agreement to that effect. I think that’s nuts. On the other hand, if she evinces even the slightest discomfort with his assertiveness, I think he is obligated, legally obligated, to pull back. Not to apologize, but just to pull back. For more on continuums, see this: Block, Walter E. and William Barnett II. 2008. “Continuums” Journal Etica e Politica / Ethics & Politics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-166, June;;

In my view, taking pictures of her while she is in the shower is way over the line (taking a picture of her fully clothed, unbeknownst to her, is in my opinion somewhat in the gray area, since he could legally do that while she was in “public” say on the street. But not really; it is not gray there in his apartment. I think he should not do that when she is in him home, since I think he owes her more, now that she is in his apartment, and sort of under his protection. If I had to rule on this, I’d say he could take her picture without her knowledge in the street, but not in his condo). And, this doesn’t stem from her right to privacy. I argue she has no such right (see below). Instead, I think this springs from implicit contracts that hosts owe guests. Hey, guest also owe hosts something too. They may not wreck the joint, besmirch it; if they spill something, they shouldn’t hide that, etc.

Block, 1991, 2012, 2013A, 2013B, ch. 18, 2016; Block, Kinsella and Whitehead, 2006

Block, Walter E. 2016. “So-called Privacy Rights Are Incompatible with our Libertarian Philosophy.” September 23;

Block, Walter E. 1991. “Old Letters and Old Buildings,” The Freeman Ideas on Liberty, March, pp. 96,;

Block, Walter E. 2012. “Rozeff on Privacy: A Defense of Rothbard.” December 13;

Rozeff on Privacy: A Defense of Rothbard

Block, Walter E. 2013A. “There Is No Right to Privacy.” July 13;

There Is No Right to Privacy

There Is No Right to Privacy;;;

Block, Walter E. 2013B. Defending the Undefendable II: Freedom in all realms; Terra Libertas Publishing House

Block, Walter, Stephan Kinsella and Roy Whitehead. 2006. “The duty to defend advertising injuries caused by junk faxes: an analysis of privacy, spam, detection and blackmail.” Whittier Law Review, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 925-949;;


8:53 pm on May 1, 2017