Privacy Law

Privacy law refers to the laws that deal with the regulating, storing, and using of personally identifiable information of individuals, which can be collected by governments, public or private organisations, or other individuals.

Privacy laws are considered within the context of an individual’s privacy rights or within reasonable expectation of privacy.

The right to privacy is not explicitly stated anywhere in the Bill of Rights. The idea of a right to privacy was first addressed within a legal context in the United States. Louis Brandeis (later a Supreme Court justice) and another young lawyer, Samuel D. Warren, published an article called “The Right to Privacy” in the Harvard Law Review in 1890 arguing that the United States Constitution and common law allowed for the deduction of a general “right to privacy”.

Their project was never entirely successful, and the renowned tort expert and Dean of the College of Law at University of California, Berkeley, William Lloyd Prosser argued that “privacy” was composed of four separate torts, the only unifying element of which was a (vague) “right to be left alone”. The four torts were:

  • Appropriating the plaintiff’s identity for the defendant’s benefit
  • Placing the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye
  • Publicly disclosing private facts about the plaintiff
  • Unreasonably intruding upon the seclusion or solitude of the plaintiff

One of the central privacy policies concerning minors is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires children under the age of thirteen to gain parental consent before putting any personal information online.

Additional information on Privacy laws in the United States can be seen in:

  • Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996
  • Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986
  • Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2721–2725
  • E-Government Act of 2002
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S. Code §§ 1681-1681u
  • Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692
  • Final Rule on Privacy of Consumer Financial Information, 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 313
  • Financial Services Modernization Act (GLB), 15 U.S. Code §§ 6801–6810
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Right to Financial Privacy Act of 1978