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Privacy is a person’s legally protected interest in preventing government or other intrusion into their homes; their communications (phone, e-mail, in-person); their luggage; certain compartments of their motor vehicle (glovebox, trunk); their personally identifiable information (PII); their body (hair, clothing, unexposed body parts); their image and likeness (through unauthorized use); and other information, places, and property (real and personal) in which persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

People generally do not have a right to privacy from being photographed or heard (if done without use of surreptitious electronic or other surveillance technologies) in public places—essentially, when they step outside of their home. There are exceptions to this general rule in which persons do have a right to privacy—such as in a doctor’s exam room or when making a phone call in a phone booth.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects people against government intrusions into their privacy.

And state and federal laws (statutes and court opinions) generally protect persons from unauthorized use of their personal information and from intrusions into their privacy by nongovernmental persons or entities. These protected privacy interests are generally limited to areas in which persons have a reasonable expectation of privacy (home, health information, image and likeness, e-mail communications, etc.)—and these laws vary from state to state.

In Texas, privacy is recognized as a significant legal interest, protected from both government and non-governmental intrusions. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides a foundational layer of protection against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, which extends to areas where individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as their homes, personal effects, and certain communications. Texas law complements these protections with statutes that address specific privacy concerns. For instance, the Texas Penal Code prohibits the interception or access to electronic communications without consent. The Texas Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act provides safeguards against the unauthorized use of personally identifiable information. Additionally, Texas recognizes a common law right to privacy, which protects individuals from the public disclosure of private facts, intrusion upon seclusion, appropriation of name or likeness, and portrayal in a false light. However, in public spaces, there is generally no expectation of privacy, meaning that photography or recording without the use of hidden devices is typically permissible. Exceptions exist for areas where privacy is still expected, such as medical facilities or private conversations in public phone booths. It's important to note that while there is a broad protection of privacy, the specifics can vary and are subject to interpretation by courts.

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