Privacy

A little while ago Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court, discussing privacy issues, said he didn’t care what people found out about him on the internet.

Professor Joel Reidenberg set his students the task of finding everything that was publicly available about Scalia. The result was a 15 page dossier which included Scalia’s dietary preferences, his favourite movies and photographs of his grandchildren. In response, Scalia stood by his opinion and questioned Prof Reidenberg’s judgement. This is the Professor’s response:

I’m surprised by Justice Scalia’s characterization of the project. The scope of protection for privacy in our society is at the forefront of the public policy debate. I assign this research project annually and last year used myself as itssubject. The exercise never fails to provide a keen demonstration for my students of the privacy issues associated with aggregating discrete bits of otherwise innocuous personal information.

When there are so few privacy protections for secondary use of personal information, that information can be used in many troubling ways. A class assignment that illustrates this point is not one of them. Indeed, the very fact that Justice Scalia found it objectionable and felt compelled to comment underscores the value and legitimacy of the exercise.

Read more about it here.

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