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Privacy and Tattletales

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3 Responses

  1. anon says:

    They characterize their privacy policy and terms of use as contractual – “These Terms of Use and the Privacy Policy constitute the entire agreement between you and us.”

    In the privacy policy, they acknowledge they collect IP addresses, but then describe a use for those IP addresses that does not include ratting you out to your boss. They also promise not to release personally identifiable information without permission, but state inaccurately that IP addresses are not personally identifying.

    Browsewrap contracts are sketchy, and it’s often not clear whether privacy problems are really “agreements” or just aspirational, but their own documents create a litigable legal issue, in my opinion.

  2. AYY says:

    But they didn’t rat him out based on something he said on his own computer. If he used a school computer hasn’t he waived his privacy rights as to the school’s knowledge of what he’s doing?

  3. Neil Richards says:

    I’ve worried about this problem, too. In cases like these, there’s probably no breach of the contractual privacy policy, tort privacy law, or statutory privacy rules. But that doesn’t mean what the journalist did was right/optimal/fair/nice/etc. I’ve argued that where privacy law is inapplicable (or inappropriate), norms can and should fill the gap. Specifically, web admins need to adopt the professional norms of confidentiality that librarians have adopted for decades. The argument can be found in longer form here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1108268