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Prosser's Privacy Law: A Mixed Legacy


Neil M. Richards


Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law

Daniel J. Solove


George Washington University Law School

March 11, 2010

California Law Review, Vol. 98, p. 1887, 2010
Washington U. School of Law Working Paper No. 10-03-06

Abstract:     
This Article examines the complex ways in which William Prosser shaped the development of the American law of tort privacy. Although Prosser certainly gave tort privacy an order and legitimacy that it had previously lacked, he also stunted its development in ways that limited its ability to adapt to the problems of the Information Age. His skepticism about privacy, as well as his view that tort privacy lacked conceptual coherence, led him to categorize the law into a set of four narrow categories and strip it of any guiding concept to shape its future development. Prosser’s legacy for tort privacy law is thus a mixed one: He greatly increased the law’s stature at the cost of giving it no guidance and making it less able to adapt to new circumstances in the future. If tort privacy is to remain vital in a digital age, it must move beyond Prosser’s conception.

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Date posted: March 11, 2010 ; Last revised: September 20, 2014

Suggested Citation

Richards, Neil M. and Solove, Daniel J., Prosser's Privacy Law: A Mixed Legacy (March 11, 2010). California Law Review, Vol. 98, p. 1887, 2010; Washington U. School of Law Working Paper No. 10-03-06. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1567693

Contact Information

Neil M. Richards
Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law ( email )
Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
Daniel J. Solove (Contact Author)
George Washington University Law School ( email )
2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States
202-994-9514 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.gwu.edu/facweb/dsolove/
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