The Death of Privacy?

Author: Froomkin, A. Michael

Description: The rapid deployment of privacy-destroying technologies by governments and businesses threatens to make informational privacy obsolete. The first part of this article describes a range of current technologies to which the law has yet to respond effectively. These include: routine collection of transactional data, growing automated surveillance in public places, deployment of facial recognition technology and other biometrics, cell-phone tracking, vehicle tracking, satellite monitoring, workplace surveillance, Internet tracking from cookies to clicktrails, and sense-enhanced searches that allow observers to see through everything from walls to clothes. The cumulative and reinforcing effect of these technologies may make modern life completely visible and permeable to observers; there could be nowhere to hide. The second part of this article discusses leading attempts to craft legal responses to the assault on privacy-including self-regulation, privacy-enhancing technologies, data-protection law, and property-rights based solutions-in the context of three structural obstacles to privacy enhancement: consumers’ privacy myopia; important First Amendment protection of rights to collect and repeat information; and fear of what other people may do if not monitored. The article concludes that despite the warnings of information privacy pessimists, all is not lost-yet.

Subject headings: Privacy; Technology; Facial recognition; Legal; Law

Publication year: 2000

Journal or book title: Stanford Law Review

Volume: 52

Issue: 5

Pages: 1461-1543

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Serial number: 3560

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