Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=928401
 
 

Citations (3)



 


 



Reservoirs of Danger: The Evolution of Public and Private Law at the Dawn of the Information Age


Danielle Keats Citron


University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project; Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society


Southern California Law Review, Vol. 80, No. 2, pp. 241-297, 2007
U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2006-29

Abstract:     
A defining problem at the dawn of the Information Age will be securing computer databases of ultra-sensitive personal information. These reservoirs of data fuel our Internet economy but endanger individuals when their information escapes into the hands of cyber-criminals. This juxtaposition of opportunities for rapid economic growth and novel dangers recalls similar challenges society and law faced at the outset of the Industrial Age. Then, reservoirs collected water to power textile mills: the water was harmless in repose but wrought havoc when it escaped. After initially resisting Rylands v. Fletcher's strict liability standard as undermining economic development, American courts and scholars embraced it once the economy matured and catastrophes such as the Johnstown Flood made those hazards impossible to ignore.

Public choice analysis suggests that a meaningful public law response to insecure databases is as unlikely now as it was in the early Industrial Age. The Industrial Age's experience can, however, help guide us to an appropriate private law remedy for the new risks and new types of harm of the early Information Age. Just as the Industrial Revolution's maturation tipped the balance in favor of early tort theorists arguing that America needed, and could afford, a Rylands solution, so too the Information Revolution's deep roots in American society and many strains of contemporary tort theory support strict liability for bursting cyber-reservoirs of personal data instead of a negligence regime overmatched by fast-changing technology. More broadly, the early Industrial Age offers valuable lessons for addressing other important Information Age problems.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 59

Keywords: torts, technology, privacy

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: September 6, 2006 ; Last revised: July 24, 2008

Suggested Citation

Citron, Danielle Keats, Reservoirs of Danger: The Evolution of Public and Private Law at the Dawn of the Information Age. Southern California Law Review, Vol. 80, No. 2, pp. 241-297, 2007; U of Maryland Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2006-29. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=928401

Contact Information

Danielle Keats Citron (Contact Author)
University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law ( email )
500 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-1786
United States
Yale University - Yale Information Society Project
127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States
Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society
Palo Alto, CA
United States
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 1,966
Downloads: 329
Download Rank: 50,484
Citations:  3

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo2 in 0.375 seconds