Friday, July 21, 2006

History of US privacy law

Daniel Solove has made available at ssrn a chapter he has written for a book on privacy to be published later this year. Here's the abstract:

"This book chapter provides a brief history of information privacy law in the United States from colonial times to the present. It discusses the development of the common law torts, Fourth Amendment law, the constitutional right to information privacy, numerous federal statutes pertaining to privacy, electronic surveillance laws, and more. It explores how the law has emerged and changed in response to new technologies that have increased the collection, dissemination, and use of personal information."

...and the conclusion:

"Information privacy law has come a long way. Spurred by the development of new technologies, the law has responded in numerous ways to grapple with emerging privacy problems. Although the law has made great strides, much work remains to be done. Several scholars, including myself, have criticized the ability of information privacy laws thus far to grapple with the growing collection and use of personal information in computer databases. Recent books, such as Robert O’Harrow’s No Place to Hide and my own book, The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age, have aimed to bring greater attention to the effects of companies maintaining extensive dossiers of information about individuals and selling this data to government agencies for profiling and investigatory purposes. As Paul Schwartz observes, “personal information in the private sector is often unaccompanied by the presence of basic legal protections. Yet, private enterprises now control more powerful resources of information technology than ever before.”

Thanks to Steve Hedley for the link.

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