Richards on Why Privacy Matters

Neil M. Richards (Washington University School of Law) has posted “Why Privacy Matters: An Introduction” (Oxford Press 2021) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Everywhere we look, companies and governments are spying on us–seeking information about us and everyone we know. Ad networks monitor our web-surfing to send us “more relevant” ads. The NSA screens our communications for signs of radicalism. Schools track students’ emails to stop school shootings. Cameras guard every street corner and traffic light, and drones fly in our skies. Databases of human information are assembled for purposes of “training” artificial intelligence programs designed to predict everything from traffic patterns to the location of undocumented migrants. We’re even tracking ourselves, using personal electronics like Apple watches, Fitbits, and other gadgets that have made the “quantified self” a realistic possibility. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg once put it, “the Age of Privacy is over.” But Zuckerberg and others who say “privacy is dead” are wrong. In Why Privacy Matters, Neil Richards explains that privacy isn’t dead, but rather up for grabs.

Richards shows how the fight for privacy is a fight for power that will determine what our future will look like, and whether it will remain fair and free. If we want to build a digital society that is consistent with our hard-won commitments to political freedom, individuality, and human flourishing, then we must make a meaningful commitment to privacy. Privacy matters because good privacy rules can promote the essential human values of human identity, political freedom, and consumer protection. If we want to preserve our commitments to these precious yet fragile values, we will need privacy rules. Richards explains why privacy remains so important and offers strategies that can help us protect it from the forces that are working to undermine it. Pithy and forceful, this is essential reading for anyone interested in a topic that sits at the center of so many current problems.

Pazos on The Case for a (European?) Law of Reputational Feedback Systems

Ricardo Pazos (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid – Faculty of Law) has posted “The Case for a (European?) Law of Reputational Feedback Systems” (InDret, Vol. 3, 2021) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Reputational feedback systems are essential in the digital economy, as tools to build trust among traders and consumers and help the latter to make better choices. Although the number of platforms using such systems is growing, some aspects undermine their reliability, endangering the proper functioning of the market. In this context, it might be convenient to create a “law of reputational feedback systems” – a comprehensive set of rules specifically aimed at online reviews and ratings, and possibly at the European Union level with the goal of contributing to develop the digital single market. This paper aims at fostering a debate on the matter. First, it presents how important reputational feedback systems are and the weaknesses they are affected by. Then, it addresses the fragmentation argument that favours legal harmonisation, without forgetting that harmonisation has downsides, too. Afterwards, some possible rules are envisaged, considering academic or institutional initiatives and norms that already exist. Finally, to balance the discussion, this paper also offers arguments to support that further regulating reputational feedback systems, or at least doing it at the European level, could be a step in the wrong direction.

Interesting expansion of common law of reputational torts.