Data Privacy Law 2015 - Berkeley School of Law

Welcome Students!

More and more companies and government agencies find themselves in the press and courtrooms for data privacy and security law violations. Given the rapidly increasing technological options to collect and commercialize personal data, this area of the law is rapidly growing. This course will prepare law students for the challenges and opportunities of data privacy law.

Objective of the lectures is to familiarize students with the typical legal problems arising from the conflicting interests in data and privacy in today's global economy and society, in particular in the areas of law enforcement, commerce, media and employment. The significance and practical relevance of domestic, international and foreign national laws is rapidly increasing for individuals, government officials, businesspeople, attorneys, judges, and legislators around the world. We will look at how data processing and laws affect individual privacy in the various areas, including government and private surveillance, press reporting, commercial treatment of financial, health and communications information, and direct marketing.

Topics covered include common law, constitutional and statutory rights and obligations regarding data privacy, data security and legal protection for databases under California, U.S. Federal, European Community, public international and other countries' laws, including, for example, the U.S.-EU Safe Harbor Principles, rules on spamming, wiretapping, homeland security, and employee monitoring.

Method of teaching involves reviewing hypothetical cases that will be available before class and discussed during class in an interactive manner (i.e., with active student participation, Socratic method). Additionally, we will discuss data privacy issues in the news. Our focus will be on active problem solving. When we review court decisions, the emphasis will be on applying the court’s rationale, beyond merely memorizing it. A legal counsel or data privacy officer from a company will be invited to class to share experiences of solving data privacy problems in the business world.

Materials and reading assignments. In our course, we will refer to Dan Solve / Paul Schwartz, Information Privacy Law, 5th Ed, 2014, 1248 pages, and Lothar Determann, Data Privacy Law 2015, Cases & Materials (44 pages + supplements). Both these resources present questions and reading assignments, some of which are selected for our course, as specified in this syllabus. For our course, please refer to the selection of reading assignments in this syllabus, as amended from time to time as our course proceeds (with two weeks notice):

ü Required reading assignments will be necessary to help you solve the problems presented by the hypothetical cases.

ü Optional reading identified in the context of each case will be helpful for background purposes, but you can solve the problems without the optional reading. For additional optional reading, I recommend Solve/Schwartz, Information Privacy Law, and academic and popular news articles. I will recommend sections to read in parallel with our course materials, but we will not go over the reading in class. Many students in prior classes said they found the additional reading helpful, but some found it not necessary or essential.

ü Purely discretional context is provided in the introduction to Lothar Determann, Data Privacy Law 2015, Cases & Materials for those of you with a true passion for data privacy and reading and movies (you need all three to enjoy these). To be clear, these are extra-super-hyper-optional suggestions, intended to encourage critical thinking as much as finding pleasure in context and absolutely not necessary for our law school course.

Class Meetings. Class meets Tuesdays at 8 AM in Room (tbd).

Practice and final exam.

  • I will offer an ungraded, two hour open book practice midterm exam on (tbd).

  • The final exam will contain one or two essay questions, open-book, but only hardcopy notes. You may not access your hard drive or the internet (bring a hardcopy of your outline). You will have 2 hours.

  • Your grade will be largely based on your exam score, provided that I reserve the right to adjust your grade upward for quality class participation.

Questions and office hours. Please contact me at We can schedule meetings before or after class in Café Zeb.