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Home > Privacy and Government > Government Threats to Privacy > Surveillance > Victimless Crimes

Victimless Crimes

Victimless or consensual crimes have unique characteristics that make them an indirect threat to the privacy of innocent people.

The laws against victimless crimes are not direct threats to privacy themselves. In criminalizing certain acts, society makes a judgment that there can be no privacy interest in those acts.

But victimless crime laws do threaten the privacy of innocents because of the monitoring and investigation they require for enforcement. None of the participants in a victimless crime will report it to authorities. To enforce this kind of crime law, officials must engage in extensive monitoring, wiretapping, and surveillance of suspects and the public.

The existence of victimless crimes tends to erode Fourth Amendment protections that are there to protect the privacy of innocents. The cost to privacy of victimless crime laws had not been well-considered in the past.


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[updated 02/19/01]

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