“Dubious achievements in privacy law”

by Walter Olson on January 5, 2014

Stewart Baker is running a year-end contest to name the most regrettable uses of privacy law over the past year. Among his nominations: the “Agriculture Department, which cited privacy grounds in refusing to name any of the beneficiaries of the notoriously fraud-ridden ‘Pigford‘ settlement”; Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who imposed millions of dollars in fines on private health companies for lacking adequate technical controls on the privacy of health data, “even when there was no evidence that any data had been compromised,” at the same time as her own department was launching healthcare.gov, a data intake site with much more critical privacy and safety flaws; racing mogul Max Mosley, who prevailed on a French court to order Google to de-index scandal coverage of Mosley’s recreational indiscretions; and federal judge Lucy Koh, for finding Gmail’s business model potentially violative of wiretap laws. All the examples above were winners in their categories, save Mosley who trailed behind two others in the category “Worst Use of Privacy Law to Protect Power and Privilege.”

{ 2 comments }

1 MattS 01.06.14 at 12:23 am

Mr Baker is a statist that is likely just looking to discredit the very idea of privacy. Fooled me for a while too when he first started posting this nonsense at http://www.volokh.com/. Go read some of his defenses of the NSA there and you’ll see what I mean.

2 Hugo S. Cunningham 01.08.14 at 5:54 pm

I supported the original invasion-of-privacy lawsuit by Max Mosley against the dirt-ball British tabloid which helped set up the orgy they reported on. I generally oppose lawsuits against Google for reporting what is out there, however. Better might be an open tab on the dirt-ball tabloid– open liability to be paid for each year that their Mosley story continues to attract significant Internet interest. Give them an incentive to try to relegate it to obscurity.

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