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Privacy Costs and Personal Data Protection: Economic and Legal Perspectives


Sasha Romanosky


Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy

Alessandro Acquisti


Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College

December 12, 2009

Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3, 2009

Abstract:     
We analyze personal data protection laws in the United States through the lenses of the economic theories of ex ante safety regulation, ex post liability and information disclosure. Specifically, we consider and contrast how legal and economic theories interpret privacy costs and the remedies to those costs. First, we introduce the general economic theories of ex ante regulation, ex post liability and information disclosure. Then, we present their causal relationships and show how they attempt to reduce possible privacy harms caused by a firm’s activity. We then scrutinize their impact by contrasting legal and economic doctrines. Finally, we provide deeper economic analysis of the three legal mechanisms and highlight conditions under which they may become socially inefficient.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: information disclosure, security breach notification, data breaches, identity theft, privacy costs, ex ante safety regulation, ex post liability

JEL Classification: D18, K13, K20, L51, L86

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Date posted: December 13, 2009 ; Last revised: April 13, 2010

Suggested Citation

Romanosky, Sasha and Acquisti, Alessandro, Privacy Costs and Personal Data Protection: Economic and Legal Perspectives (December 12, 2009). Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1522605

Contact Information

Sasha Romanosky (Contact Author)
Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy ( email )
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
Alessandro Acquisti
Carnegie Mellon University - Heinz College ( email )
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-9853 (Phone)
412-268-5339 (Fax)
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