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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1473561
 
 

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Promises and Privacy: Promissory Estoppel and Confidential Disclosure in Online Communities


Woodrow Hartzog


Samford University - Cumberland School of Law; Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

September 14, 2009

Temple Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 4, p. 891, Winter 2009

Abstract:     
Online communities often provide significant support for those who seek it. Yet in order to take advantage of that support, users must frequently disclose sensitive information such as dating profiles, candid thoughts, or even past substance abuse. What happens when other community members fail to keep this potentially harmful information confidential? Traditional remedies will likely fail to protect people when members of an online community violate the confidentiality of other members. In this Article, I contend that promissory estoppel, an equitable doctrine designed to protect those who detrimentally rely on promises, can ensure confidentiality for members of online communities. The application of promissory estoppel via a website’s terms of use agreement as a method for protecting disclosure has substantial advantages over tort-based, technological or contractual remedies. Under the third-party beneficiary doctrine or the concept of dual agency, these agreements could create a safe place to disclose information due to mutual ability to enforce promises of confidentiality.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 38

Keywords: privacy, confidentiality, online communities, social network sites, cyberlaw, technology, disclosure

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Date posted: September 16, 2009 ; Last revised: February 1, 2014

Suggested Citation

Hartzog, Woodrow, Promises and Privacy: Promissory Estoppel and Confidential Disclosure in Online Communities (September 14, 2009). Temple Law Review, Vol. 82, No. 4, p. 891, Winter 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1473561

Contact Information

Woodrow Hartzog (Contact Author)
Samford University - Cumberland School of Law ( email )
800 Lakeshore Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35229
United States
HOME PAGE: http://cumberland.samford.edu/faculty/woodrow-n-hartzog
Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society ( email )
Palo Alto, CA
United States
HOME PAGE: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/profile/woodrow-hartzog
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