Information Privacy

Professor Ari Ezra Waldman

New York Law School

Course Description

This interdisciplinary course is about us, our data, and the myriad ways in which websites, the government, and even our friends pose threats to our privacy. We will touch on the development of tort, contract, statutory, and constitutional law, and we will address several questions throughout the class, including: How, if at all, can we protect information known to some others? How has technology changed our relationships with each other and with the government? Can traditional privacy rules and laws accommodate today's needs?

We will begin by discussing theories of privacy to which we will refer throughout the entire course. Then, we will discuss issues of privacy and disclosure by the media and by other private citizens. We will then turn to privacy and law enforcement and discuss issues related to police surveillance, abuse of power, safety, and the Fourth Amendment. Then we take up questions of consumer privacy, data aggregation, notice and choice, predictive algorithms and artificial intelligence, and the "black box" of data analytics.

We meet (almost) every Monday and Wednesday, from 12:30 to 1:55 PM in Room 4-08. Be present. Be on time. Be engaged. Have fun!

CONTACT: My email address is ari.waldman@nyls.edu. My office hours are back at my home institution, but I am happy to chat over the phone or before/after class.

Course Goals

By the end of this semester, you should ...

  1. learn how networked technologies have and will continue to impact legal questions related to the collection, use, sale, and analysis of our personal data,
  2. be able to discuss different understandings of privacy and relate them to real world privacy problems,
  3. apply current law to vanguard legal and technological issues, including those associated with robots, driverless cars, drones, and more,
  4. learn to summarize the relevant facts of cases, identify patterns among seemingly disparate cases, and continue to perfect a variety of lawyering skills, including legal writing, advocacy, negotiation, and dispute resolution, through in-class, practice-based activities,
  5. understand the impact of implicit biases in technology law, and
  6. have fun!

Reading

Participation

Rules & Regs

1. William McGeveran, Privacy and Data Protection Law (2016).

2. Waldman, Privacy As Trust (2018).

3. Any supplemental materials I post to this website.

As the semester unfolds, I will supplement, subtract, revise the readings based on our interests, the news, and our pace. I appreciate the flexibility and I hope you will too.

Please note that I have provided questions to guide your reading. You will find them on the next page. These are not assignments that you have to hand in; no one will see your answers save you, assuming you write them down. However, they may help focus your reading on the topics and skills we will discuss in class. You should not restrict yourself to answering these questions, but you may use them as guides.

Participation is essential for success in this class and in law school generally. I will rarely, if ever, just lecture to you. Class is a discussion among all members of our community, and you should come to class prepared to participate. In the event that there are either an insufficient number or an insufficient variety of volunteers, I will call on you at random. You needn't worry about being called on if you're prepared for class.


Being prepared for class means the following:

1. You did the reading ... of course. Sometimes, you read it more than once.

2. You reflected on the readings through the questions in the text.

3. You looked up any terms you didn't understand.

4. You came to class with your readings annotated and your notes available.

Professionalism

We will maintain a courteous and professional learning environment. Professionalism means many things. For example, it means answering questions using appropriate tone and language. It means handing in assignments that reflect the same. Most importantly, it means treating everyone with respect. We are all in this together.


Laptops and Cellphones

Professionalism also means not distracting your fellow students. I do allow laptops in class, despite some misgivings. If that's how you feel you learn better, feel free. But do not use your laptop for anything other than taking notes. Trust me, I will know. Turn off your cell phone before class and do not use any tech during class.


Recording Devices

Recording devices are not permitted. If you have reason to have class videotaped, using classroom tech, please contact the appropriate administrative office.