Scalia gets a schooling in online privacy

Justice Antonin Scalia doesn't think there's much need for Internet privacy rules. Speaking at the Institute of American and Talmudic Law, he exclaimed:"Every single datum about my life is private?

Justice Antonin Scalia doesn't think there's much need for Internet privacy rules. Speaking at the Institute of American and Talmudic Law, he exclaimed:

"Every single datum about my life is private? That's silly."

At Fordham University Law School, Prof. Joel Reidenberg took up the gauntlet and assigned his students to complile a "dossier" on the life of Justice Scalia. Above the Law reported that Reidenberg discussed the project at a Fordham conference on privacy.

"Justice Scalia said he doesn't care what people find out about him on the Internet," said Reidenberg during his presentation on the transparency of personal information. "So I challenged my class to compile a dossier on him."
The results, according to the Times:
The class managed to create a dossier of 15 pages, Professor Reidenberg reported to a conference on privacy at Fordham, that included the justice’s home address and home phone number, his wife’s personal e-mail address and the TV shows and food he prefers.

Scalia didn't care much for the stunt but, of course, he said it didn't change his mind about privacy.

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.

But of course he was far more responsible than not only the identity-theft criminals but also the Internet companies that would trace your footsteps across the Web.

As law student Chris Reid pointed out in the Times article: "People are willing to give up a lot of privacy for a small benefit. They don’t know the full cost."