»  Notes and updates

Note: This is the webpage for a class from the past that has ended. Information about current classes is available here.

Final exam: The final exam has been posted here. Graded exams are available for pickup in the Registrar’s office.

Cool privacy-related job opportunity: TechCongress is looking for Congressional Innovation Fellows to work on policymaking related to encryption, health IT, privacy, cyber/data security, and similar issues. Applications are due by September 30, 2016 at 11:59 pm.

ACLU privacy happy hour: The ACLU of New Hampshire will hold a Young Professionals Happy Hour on Wednesday, August 31, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at True Brew Café. The program will include a discussion of mobile-device privacy and anonymous web browsing using Tor. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to gibson@nullaclu-nh.org. The invitation is here.

»  Overview

Privacy is the study of society’s efforts to draw boundaries between different contexts in which information flows. In the last few decades, privacy law has gone from being a minor issue largely confined to a few specific industries to one of the most important and pressing issues for businesses, consumers, and government officials of all kinds. This course will survey legal regimes governing the collection, use, and dissemination of information. Topics of discussion will include information dissemination and the First Amendment, associational privacy, the privacy torts, consumer privacy on the internet, the role of the Federal Trade Commission, medical privacy, government surveillance and the Fourth Amendment, privacy and national security, and international privacy regimes.

»  Class meetings and office hours

We will meet on Tuesdays from 3:10 to 5:10 p.m. in room 202. On a few occasions, I may need to cancel class because of a conflict; we will make up those sessions at times announced in class and posted on this site. We will not meet on Election Day.

Outside of class, I don’t have set office hours, but you are always welcome to stop by my office (room 281) and chat or just grab some candy. I will be in the office most days (afternoons are more likely than mornings). To set up a specific time to talk, please email me at roger.ford@nulllaw.unh.edu.

»  Materials

The casebook is Solove & Schwartz, Information Privacy Law (5th ed. 2014). List price for the book is $226. On Amazon, the book costs about $196 (new) or $89 (used), or it can be rented for about $27. Professor Solove also maintains a website for the casebook, informationprivacylaw.com, which contains links to privacy statutes, organizations, and various other resources.

If you exercise the option to write a substantial paper (see below), you’re also going to want a copy of Eugene Volokh’s book Academic Legal Writing. (It doesn’t really matter which edition, though later is probably at least a little better.)

In addition to the casebook, I will post links to other readings and assignments on this site. I will not be using TWEN or Blackboard.

»  Attendance, participation, and evaluation

Regular attendance is required, and under the standard ABA rules, you may be barred from taking the examination and receiving credit for the course if you miss more than 20% of class sessions. Attendance will be taken by sign-in sheet, and signing in for someone else is, as always, academic misconduct. An occasional absence is fine, but please let me know in advance.

Because this is a class centered on discussion, it is critical that you come to class prepared, having read and considered the assigned materials.

Your course grade will be based on three components:

For each of the four short discussion papers, you should read the assignment for the week and write a 2-to-4-page paper on something related to that week’s subject. These papers should not just respond to or regurgitate the readings; they should bring something new to the table — an example, case study, new idea, or proposal that goes beyond what’s covered in the readings. This will likely require doing some Google research or outside reading in addition to the week’s assignment. This also means that your paper will likely be far narrower than the week’s reading; that’s fine, since the goal is to spark interesting discussion. You can choose any four weeks (after the first week) to do these papers, and they are due the Monday evening before class at 6:00 p.m. by email to me at roger.ford@nulllaw.unh.edu. Please use the email subject line “Privacy short paper” and include your paper as a PDF attachment with the filename “[your last name] week [week number].pdf.”

The final exam will be open to any materials; I will say more about its contents as it approaches. If you choose, you have the option to instead write a substantial research paper of 10,000 words or more. This option is only available to you if I approve your topic by the end of October. If you are interested in exercising this option, let me know well in advance of the October deadline so we can discuss what would make for a suitable paper topic.

»  Competencies

In 2013, the faculty approved a list of competencies that are important to the practice of law. For a list of those competencies, indicating which will be covered in this class, click here.

»  Schedule and reading assignments

I will fill in the following list of reading assignments over the course of the semester; the list of subjects to be covered is tentative and subject to change depending on late-breaking developments and the interests of the class. We will cover each assignment during one class session. “S&S” refers to the Solove & Schwartz casebook.

  1. The functions of privacy and origins of privacy law.
  2. News gathering and the public interest in information.
  3. False information, emotional distress, appropriation, and anonymity.
  4. Law enforcement and government surveillance.
  5. Privacy versus national security.
  6. Health privacy and HIPAA.
  7. Intimate privacy and individual autonomy.
    • S&S 544–569.
  8. Genetic privacy; associational and group privacy.
  9. Consumer and financial privacy.
  10. The Federal Trade Commission as privacy guardian.
  11. Data breaches and identity theft.
  12. International privacy and the European privacy regime.
  13. The internet, robots, drones, and future privacy; protecting yourself.