Information Privacy and Government Surveillance Law
The acquisition, management, analysis, dissemination, and security of personal information are increasing important issues for individuals, commercial enterprises and governments. New technologies create a more connected and personal digital society. Every day, transactions engaged in by individuals generate ever expanding amounts of personal information, including credit card transaction information, purchasing histories, bank and other financial transaction information, location information, health information, real property ownership information, information relating to interactions with the criminal justice system, information shared on social media and other types of information. Not only is the volume of personal information escalating rapidly; much of it resides on servers and storage media where it can be accessible or potentially accessible to commercial enterprises and government agencies. In both the commercial sector and the government sector, the legal and policy issues associated with personal information are growing in importance. Discussion of these issues in either sector cannot ignore the other, because the issues frequently intersect. They also transcend national boundaries. For example, in President Obama’s proposals to revise government policy towards signals intelligence collection, he states that such policies implicate “the cooperation we receive from other nations on law enforcement, counterterrorism, and other issues; our commercial, economic, and financial interests, including a potential loss of international trust in U.S. firms and the decreased willingness of other nations to participate in international data sharing, privacy, and regulatory regimes …” This intersection of issues creates particular challenges for existing constitutional, legislative and international governance models.
In the government sector, many of the most pressing problems relate to the national security state that has developed after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The crucial battleground for combating and preventing future terrorist attacks is the intelligence battleground. In the United States, as well as in other countries, efforts to acquire and properly analyze intelligence with respect to terrorists, their plans and their plots, have expanded dramatically. The tension between these efforts and individual privacy creates frictions that are forcing reconsideration of existing methods of mediating them. Similar reconsideration is occurring in the commercial sector, where consumers’ desire for confidentiality in the data that relates to them can conflict with markets for information and commercial and entrepreneurial interests that wish to take advantage of such data to provide new goods and services that consumers value.
This course explores the legal and policy issues associated with concerns about information privacy, in the commercial and government sectors and in the intersection of these two sectors.
GRADING: 30% Class Participation, 30% Participation in a Class Debates and Debate Summaries, 40% 2 10-page response papers
Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.