May 18, 2009

Playing With Fire [8:40 am]

Fordham Law Students Teach Scalia About Privacy and the Web (pdf)

This spring, the students of an elective course on Internet privacy at Fordham Law School experienced a number of fascinating “teaching moments” during an assignment meant to demonstrate how much personal information is floating around online.

The assignment from the class’s professor, Joel R. Reidenberg, was, admittedly, a bit provocative: create a dossier about Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from what can be found on the Internet.

Why Justice Scalia? Well, the class had been discussing his recent dismissive comments about Internet privacy concerns at a conference. His summation, as reported by The Associated Press: “Every single datum about my life is private? That’s silly.”

[...] Justice Scalia declined an interview request through a spokeswoman but he did give a response about the episode to Above the Law.

“I stand by my remark at the Institute of American and Talmudic Law conference that it is silly to think that every single datum about my life is private. I was referring, of course, to whether every single datum about my life deserves privacy protection in law.

“It is not a rare phenomenon that what is legal may also be quite irresponsible. That appears in the First Amendment context all the time. What can be said often should not be said. Prof. Reidenberg’s exercise is an example of perfectly legal, abominably poor judgment. Since he was not teaching a course in judgment, I presume he felt no responsibility to display any.”

A teaching moment, but not necessarily a learned one.

Solove’s blog: Concurring Opinions; entries on this article’s topic — Justice Scalia’s Conception of Privacy, Justice Scalia’s Dossier: Interesting Issues about Privacy and Ethics and Justice Scalia’s Dossier: Joel Reidenberg Responds

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