Supreme Court Justice Scalia Given Lesson In Internet Privacy
from the not-an-issue? dept
BoingBoing points us to an interesting story involving Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who apparently gave a recent talk questioning the need to protect privacy online. That caught the attention of Joel Reidenberg, a law professor at Fordham, who teaches an Information Privacy Law class. As part of that class he includes an assignment for the class to try to dig up information on someone online, in order to prove how much information is out there. Last year, he chose himself. This year, given Scalia’s comments, he had the class put together a dossier on Scalia, which was not released publicly, but did include a bunch of private info about Scalia that was dug up online. Apparently Scalia was not amused, saying:
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.
Now, to be fair, Scalia does have a point that not every single datum about anyone’s life should be considered private. But it’s equally silly to lash out and call the decision to give the assignment “abominably poor judgment.” That seems like Scalia is suggesting security through obscurity is reasonable, and exposing why it’s not is poor judgment. It’s hard to see how that makes sense.