Communication Law in America

For Week 3, we are talking about privacy. Believe or not, 25 years ago I was writing conference papers about the idea of privacy in the information age–and how difficult it was to maintain privacy when electronics were taking over our lives.

We have Facebook and Twitter. We have Alexa and other home assistants recording every word and putting them in a database. Suffice it to say, privacy is getting harder to maintain. We share a great deal more, in more places, than we have at any other time in our history. We even see people getting fired for sharing.

The media obviously has some rules governing its behavior. Social media platforms have quite a bit less. Since we inherently consent by using the apps–including third party apps–consent is unlikely to be stopping point on sharing. Data breaches have also put our collective privacy in health care, financial status and other venues at risk.

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This weeks question, then, is: What responsibility does a social media platform like Facebook have in safeguarding our privacy? What qualifies as private information when people are sharing so much — after all, one public disclosure defense is that something is already widely known or readily available? Finally, where do you think the laws need to go in the future where it relates to the four torts listed in the text?

Textbooks:

  1. Siegel, Paul. Communication Law in America. Fourth Edition. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield,2014. ISBN: 978-1-4422-2622-7.
  2. Cases in Communication Law. Fourth Edition. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield,  2014. ISBN: 978-1-4422-2624-1

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