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Rethinking Reasonable Expectations of Privacy in Online Social Networks

Bryce Clayton Newell

University of Washington - The Information School

November 15, 2010

Richmond Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 17(4), art. 12, pp. 1-62 (2011)

Present U.S. privacy law is predominantly based on the ideals of individual control, autonomy, and liberty from governmental intrusion, despite the fact that its inspiration was an idea grounded on the importance of protecting human dignity and an “inviolate personality.” On the other hand, Europe has predominantly taken the position that privacy protects human dignity and fosters personal relationships. This view also promotes individual autonomy, although it does so in a different fashion and – as this paper suggests – perhaps to a greater extent. Privacy laws based on the right to a private life, such as those generally found in European jurisdictions, more accurately reflect the realities of the digital age and properly protect individual privacy online. In combination, protecting autonomy through principles based on human dignity and recognizing that reasonable expectations can have their place in the context of online communities and digital communication – albeit often mediated and less private than some forms of offline communication – would result in more effective individual safeguards and more satisfactory results. Recent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights have laid the theoretical groundwork required for heightened protection of human dignity in these online environments.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 61

Keywords: Privacy, Government, Europe, Online, Social, Networks, Human Rights, Internet, United States, Canada, Facebook, Myspace, Information, Dignity, Autonomy, European, European Court of Human Rights, Court, Law, Communication, Reasonable Expectation

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Date posted: November 16, 2010 ; Last revised: February 13, 2015

Suggested Citation

Newell, Bryce Clayton, Rethinking Reasonable Expectations of Privacy in Online Social Networks (November 15, 2010). Richmond Journal of Law and Technology, Vol. 17(4), art. 12, pp. 1-62 (2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1709518

Contact Information

Bryce Clayton Newell (Contact Author)
University of Washington - The Information School ( email )
4311 11th Ave NE, Suite 400
Box 354985
Seattle, WA Washington 98105
United States
HOME PAGE: http://ischool.uw.edu/people/phd/bcnewell
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