Information Privacy, Spring 2007

Brooklyn Law School

Professor Wendy Seltzer, email, 718.780.7961
Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School
Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School

Monday 6:00 - 7:50P and Wednesday(2) 8:00 - 9:50P, room 605
PDF schedule, with dates


Website: <>.
The website and online syllabus are the authoritative source of course information.

Wiki: There is also a course wiki, where you can add your own news, views, and questions (click the "edit" link on any of the wiki pages). Interesting news, examples, and questions you post might well end up part of a future lecture!
Slides presented in class are posted to the wiki. Download PDFs of all slides as a zipped folder: here.

Text: Solove, Rotenberg & Schwartz's Information Privacy Law (2d ed., Aspen, 2006) (“IPL”).

Exam: The final exam will be an eight-hour take-home, available at any time during the examination period (April 30-May 10). It will be similar in format to last year's Information Privacy exam.

1. Introduction

- IPL pp. 1-38 (Sidis v. FR Publishing; Warren & Brandeis, The Right to Privacy).
- Find and be prepared to discuss a recent event or news item that you feel raises information privacy concerns. How do you think the law should respond?

2. What is privacy? Why do we care?

- IPL pp. 39-74, Philosophical perspectives on privacy
- Browse an online social networking or social media site (such as Friendster, Facebook, MySpace, Orkut, Flickr, or YouTube). Do activities on these sites might raise privacy concerns? Whose activities, and whose privacy?

3. Privacy and the media: Information Gathering and Disclosure of truthful information

- IPL pp. 75-131
- Nader v. General Motors Corp.; Dietemann v. Time; Desnick v. American Broadcasting Co.; Shulman v. Group W. Prod'ns, Inc.; Galella v. Onassis; Gill v. Hearst Publ. Co.; Daily Times Democrat v. Graham; Miller v. Motorola, Inc.; Sipple v. Chronicle Publ. Co.

4. Media: Disclosure of truthful information (cont.), appropriation

- IPL pp. 131-152: Cox Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn; Florida Star v. B.J.F.
- IPL pp. 189-206: Carson v. Here's Johnny Portable Toilets, Inc.; Finger v. Omni Publications Int'l, Ltd.; Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co.

5. Media: Dissemination of false or misleading information; illegally obtained information

- IPL pp. 159-188: N.Y. Times v. Sullivan; Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc.; Zeran v. America Online, Inc.; Blumenthal v. Drudge, Time Inc. v. Hill; Hustler Magazine v. Falwell
- IPL pp. 152-157, Bartnicki v. Vopper

6. Privacy and law enforcement: Fourth Amendment and responses to changing technology

- IPL pp. 207-232: United States v. Olmstead; United States v. Lopez; United States v. Katz; White v. United States

7. Privacy and law enforcement: Reasonable expectations of privacy

- IPL pp. 232-263: Smith v. Maryland; United States v. Place; Illinois v. Caballes; California v. Greenwood; Florida v. Riley; Dow Chemical v. United States; Kyllo v. United States

8. Federal surveillance law

- IPL pp. 263-285, structure of federal surveillance law: Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA); Steve Jackson Games v. Secret Service

9. Federal surveillance law (2)

- IPL pp. 285-300, structure of federal surveillance law, continued: CALEA, FISA, USA PATRIOT Act
- Doe v. Gonzales, 334 F. Supp. 2d 471 (S.D.N.Y. 2004)
- In re Application for Pen Register and Trap/Trace Device with Cell Site Location Authority, H-05-557M S.D. Tex., Oct. 14, 2005

10. National security

- IPL pp. 300-320: In re Sealed Case (FISA Court of Review)

11. Encryption and responses to it

- IPL pp. 320-323; 339-345: United States v. Scarfo
- Bernstein v. United States Department of Justice, 176 F.3d 1132 (9th Cir. 1999)

12. Privacy of Association and Anonymity

- IPL pp. 451-480, 490-498: NAACP v. Alabama; Barenblatt v. United States; Laird v. Tatum; Society of Friends v. Tate; Talley v. California; McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission; Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc'y v. Village of Stratton; Tattered Cover v. City of Thornton

13. Anonymity online

- recall Zeran and Blumenthal v. Drudge
- IPL pp. 329-333; 481-490; 498-504: McVeigh v. Cohen; ACLU v. Miller; Columbia Ins. Co. v.; Doe v.; RIAA v. Verizon
- read one of Blogging anonymously from EFF, <>, and Reporters Without Borders, <> How easy is it to protect your anonymity securely online?

14. Privacy and commerce

- IPL pp. 623-649, collecting information
- Dwyer v. American Express; Remsburg v. Docusearch
- IPL pp. 649-673, regulating information use
- In re Pharmatrak; Dyer v. Northwest Airlines; Chance v. Avenue A; Dirkes v. Borough of Runnemede

15. Online privacy

- IPL pp. 739-765
- In re Northwest Airlines; In re GeoCities; In re
- The privacy policy: Find and read the privacy policy for a website you visit frequently. Are you reassured or worried by it?
-Browse the TRUSTe website, <>
- Jeri Clausing, Privacy Watchdog Declines to Pursue Microsoft, a Backer, N.Y. Times, March 22, 1999, <>
- Joseph Reagle and Lorrie Faith Cranor, The Platform for Privacy Preferences, <>

16. Data breaches, notification, and identity theft

- IPL pp. 696-700 and supplemental materials online

17. Health and medical privacy : Confidentiality in tort and statute

- IPL pp. 345-394
- Jaffee v. Redmod; McCormick v. England; Hammonds v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co.; Tarasoff v. Regents; McIntosh v. Milano; Northwestern Memorial Hospital v. Ashcroft

18. Health and medical privacy: Constitutional issues; genetic privacy.

- IPL pp. 394-450
- Whalen v. Roe; Carter v. Broadlawns Medical Center; Doe v. Borough of Barrington; Doe v. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority; Anonymous Fireman v. City of Willoughby; Ferguson v. City of Charleston; Moore v. Regents; United States v. Kincade

19. International privacy regimes; cross-border data flows

- IPL pp. 871-878; 900-922; 936-948
- EU Privacy Directive; U.S. Safe harbor; Durant v. Financial Services Authority; Criminal Proceedings against Bodil Lindqvist

There will be no class the week of April 23. Study well!

Last updated: 4/19/07