Skip to content

Spring 2021 Reading Group

Common Law and Privacy Torts

Prerequisite: Torts or permission of the instructor.

Exam Type: No Exam

Protecting privacy has become one of the major challenges of our time. In the U.S., legal discussions about a right to privacy began by Samuel D. Warren & Justice Louis D. Brandeis’s Harvard Law Review article in 1890 that argued for “a right to be let alone.” Since then, many courts have tackled allegations of invasion of privacy by relying on that underlying concept and the four common law privacy torts categorized by Dean William Prosser. The four torts were also recognized in the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Second) of Torts. The common law privacy torts have also played a significant role in the design of privacy policies of Big Tech companies such as Facebook and Google. In many circumstances, these torts have been helpful guidelines. But they have also, at times, fallen short of adequately redressing alleged injuries. Today, whether trying to file a successful invasion of privacy lawsuit or thinking about designing a privacy policy for a client’s app, having a solid knowledge of privacy torts is the crucial starting point. This course aims to introduce students to the U.S. common law privacy torts through studying case law and related literature. It will provide an opportunity to further discuss and debate their evolution and shortcomings. The course also encourages students to think about the future of privacy, related legislative initiatives, and the role of tort law in redressing novel injuries.

Note: This reading group will meet on the following dates: 1/28, 2/4, 2/11, 2/18, 2/25, 3/4