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Privacy Law in a Digital World

Information privacy is among the core civil liberties issues of our age. In a culture and global economy built on ever-increasing connectivity and transparent borders, the right to control and publicize personal information is in a perpetual state of flux. It routinely does battle with pressing state, federal, and international policy considerations, presenting in a new light centuries-old questions of sacrificing personal liberty in the name of public safety or the public's right to be informed of the freedom of expression. The law of privacy offers no unified body of rules. It is instead an amalgamation of torts, statutes, Constitutional questions, and administrative adjudications. Accordingly, this course trains students to recognize the body of law that applies to any given privacy issue. It begins by examining the origins of privacy rights in early 20th century common law and philosophical discourse. The course then quickly progresses to modern applications of privacy law, where case studies include the media's gathering and disclosure of private facts, national security and the erosion of the Fourth Amendment, the privacy of health records and genetic information, anonymity and associational privacy, control of financial and commercial data, and international privacy protections. The course will conclude with a survey of unresolved problems and the future of privacy, questioning and considering whether the right can exist at all as constant sharing becomes the new normal in a digital world. Recent news stories, policy studies, and books about privacy rights will be discussed routinely.

Grading and Method of Evaluation:
Letter grade with pass/fail option. Final exam.