Mainstreaming Privacy Torts

12 Feb 2011 03:15pm Danielle Keats Citron 

In 1890, Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis proposed a privacy tort and seventy years later, William Prosser conceived it as four wrongs. In both eras, privacy invasions primarily caused psychic and reputational wounds of a particular sort. Courts insisted upon significant proof due to those injuries’ alleged ethereal nature. Digital networks alter this calculus by exacerbating the injuries inflicted. Because humiliating personal information posted online has no expiration date, neither does individual suffering. Leaking databases of personal information and postings encouraging assaults invade privacy in ways that exact significant financial and physical harm. It would be nearly impossible now to argue that these injuries are mere trivialities.

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