Table of Contents

Right to Information in Canada: Drawing Analogue Law into a Digital Present

Andrew Hilts, University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab
Christopher A. Parsons, University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab

A Simple Framework for Estimating Consumer Benefits from Regulating Hidden Fees

Sumit Agarwal, National University of Singapore
Souphala Chomsisengphet, US Department of Treasury - Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
Neale Mahoney, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Johannes Stroebel, New York University (NYU)

The Legal Anatomy of Product Bans to Protect the Public's Health

James G. Hodge, Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
Megan Scanlon, Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

How Should Health Data Be Used? Privacy, Secondary Use, and Big Data Sales

Bonnie Kaplan, Yale University


CONSUMER LAW eJOURNAL

"Right to Information in Canada: Drawing Analogue Law into a Digital Present" Free Download
The Winston Report, Winter 2014

ANDREW HILTS, University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab
Email:
CHRISTOPHER A. PARSONS, University of Toronto, Munk School of Global Affairs, Citizen Lab
Email:

Privacy debates across Western democracies, and arguably the world, have been transformed following Edward Snowden’s revelations. The documents he provided to journalists informed news articles, parliamentary debates, and legal challenges, that at least temporarily invigorated the public’s interest in government-related privacy issues. However, translating this interest into action has been challenging because of the technical nature of the debates and the complexity of state surveillance behaviours. So, while campaigns and written letters to legislatures have become one way of demonstrating interest or involvement, a distinctly Canadian approach has seen domestic residents file requests to their telecommunications service providers (TSPs) to learn what data is held by the companies and whether residents’ information has previously been disclosed to state agencies.

These kinds of right to information requests are engrained in Canadian commercial privacy law. Exercising such rights, however, has traditionally demanded filing paper letters after developing knowledge about both the law and the data handling practices of the organizations in question. In the decade since PIPEDA came fully into force, the Internet has grown to be an intrinsic element of most companies’ and government agencies’ operations, but no digital system has grown up with the Internet to facilitate Canadians’ personal information requests to organizations. This article discusses the importance of such tools as well as some early results associated with an ‘Access My Information’ (AMI) tool that was developed at the Citizen Lab and argues that the public’s demand for basic information about company and industry data handling practices can be gauged by measuring how many Canadians request access to their information. Furthermore, we argue that the value of access requests can be demonstrated by Canadians’ ability to enhance public reporting about such data practices.

We test these arguments by turning to a case study, where academic and civil society organizations collaborated to help Canadians request access to their personal information from TSPs. We generally find that the companies lack common responses to standardized requests based on information we obtained about companies’ data retention schedules, their positions concerning whether they can reveal that they have disclosed subscribers’ information to government agencies, as well as barriers to timely and reasonably-priced responses to requests for certain historical data. The case study does possess limitations, however, and thus leaves the following questions: how can semi-automated support for right to information requests assist requesters after creating their initial request? And how can crowdsourced access requests respect requesters’ privacy yet collect statistical information about the requests? The article concludes by identifying how such limitations could be overcome in future iterations of similar digital tools and by discussing the value of Internet-enabled right to information tools that facilitate crowdsourced methods of understanding corporate data handling policies.

"A Simple Framework for Estimating Consumer Benefits from Regulating Hidden Fees" Free Download

SUMIT AGARWAL, National University of Singapore
Email:
SOUPHALA CHOMSISENGPHET, US Department of Treasury - Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
Email:
NEALE MAHONEY, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Email:
JOHANNES STROEBEL, New York University (NYU)
Email:

Policymakers are increasingly turning to regulation to reduce hidden or non-salient fees. Yet the overall consumer benefits from these polices are uncertain because firms may increase other prices to offset lost fee revenue. We show that the extent to which firms offset reduced hidden fee revenue is determined by a simple equation that combines two “sufficient statistics,? which can be estimated or calibrated in a wide range of settings: (i) a parameter that captures the degree of market competitiveness and (ii) a parameter that captures the salience of the hidden fee. We provide corroborating evidence for this approach by drawing upon evidence on the effect of fee regulation under the 2009 CARD Act. We also illustrate the applicability of our approach by using the framework to assess a hypothetical regulation of airline baggage fees.

"The Legal Anatomy of Product Bans to Protect the Public's Health" Free Download
Annals of Health Law, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2014

JAMES G. HODGE, Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
Email:
MEGAN SCANLON, Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
Email:

The vast array of products available to American consumers can be used or consumed safely. There are products, however, that pose significant threats to individual and community health and safety even when used as intended. Some of these products kill thousands of people each year (e.g.,tobacco, alcohol, salt, guns) or lead to long- or short-term physical and mental disabilities (e.g., lead-based paints, asbestos).

Others present less significant risks to most users (e.g., caffeinated beverages). Some products are inherently dangerous only in the hands of certain consumers (e.g., children’s toys). And some products with known, sometimes significant risks (e.g., prescription and over-the-counter drugs) are sold lawfully because their benefits outweigh their potential for harms to intended users.

"How Should Health Data Be Used? Privacy, Secondary Use, and Big Data Sales" Free Download
Yale University Institute for Social and Policy Studies Working Paper No. 14-025

BONNIE KAPLAN, Yale University
Email:

Electronic health records, data sharing, big data, data mining, and secondary use are enabling exciting opportunities for improving health and health care while also exacerbating privacy concerns. Two court cases about selling prescription data raise questions of what constitutes “privacy? and “public interest;? they present opportunity for ethical analysis of data privacy, commodifying data for sale and ownership, combining public and private data, data for research, and transparency and consent. These interwoven issues involve discussion of big data benefits and harms, and touch on common dualities of the individual v. the aggregate or the public interest, research (or, more broadly, innovation) v. privacy, individual v. institutional power, identification v. identity and authentication, and virtual v. real individuals and contextualized information. Transparency and accountability are needed for assessing appropriate, judicious, and ethical data use and users, as some are more compatible with societal norms and values than others.

^top

About this eJournal

This eJournal distributes working and accepted paper abstracts of articles, recently published articles, books, legislative reports, conferences, and other publications that address issues of interest to consumer law scholars and practitioners. Coverage includes legal issues pertaining to advertising, consumer reporting (including credit repair organizations), discrimination (including redlining), consumer disclosure (such as the Truth in Lending Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and consumer leasing), consumer fraud (including issues arising under the Federal Trade Commission Act, state UDAP statutes, odometer laws, referral sales, and bait and switch statutes), unconscionability, standard form contracts, consumer privacy (including telemarketing, spam, spyware, phishing, direct mail, financial privacy, common law privacy torts in consumer transactions, and online privacy), identity theft, data protection, cooling off rules (including door to door sales regulation), payment systems (such as credit and debit cards, internet payment issues, stored value cards (including gift cards and phone cards), and electronic transfers), warranties (including UCC warranties, lemon laws, and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act), consumer product safety, commercial speech doctrine, debt collection, repossession, predatory lending (including asset-based lending, equity stripping, flipping, balloon payments, negative amortization, loan packing, rate-risk disparities and yield-spread premiums), payday lending, usury, credit insurance, electronic shopping (including electronic signatures and records, formation of contracts, and payments), the holder in due course regulation, mortgages, student loans, repossession, foreclosure, regulation that pertains to consumer markets and enforcement of consumer laws (including class actions, preemption, arbitration, administrative enforcement, small claims courts and attorney's fees). The eJournal does not cover landlord-tenant issues or criminal law. The eJournalwelcomes a broad range of methodological approaches, including conventional doctrinal analyses, law and economics approaches, historical discussions, socio-legal analyses, law and society approaches, discussions of consumer psychology that bear on legal issues, international law analyses and comparative law approaches.

Submissions

To submit your research to SSRN, sign in to the SSRN User HeadQuarters, click the My Papers link on left menu and then the Start New Submission button at top of page.

Distribution Services

If your organization is interested in increasing readership for its research by starting a Research Paper Series, or sponsoring a Subject Matter eJournal, please email: RPS@SSRN.com

Distributed by

Legal Scholarship Network (LSN), a division of Social Science Electronic Publishing (SSEP) and Social Science Research Network (SSRN)

Directors

LSN SUBJECT MATTER EJOURNALS

BERNARD S. BLACK
Northwestern University - School of Law, Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
Email: bblack@northwestern.edu

RONALD J. GILSON
Stanford Law School, Columbia Law School, European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)
Email: rgilson@leland.stanford.edu

Please contact us at the above addresses with your comments, questions or suggestions for LSN-Sub.

Advisory Board

Consumer Law eJournal

RICHARD M. ALDERMAN
Associate Dean, Director - Consumer Law Center, Dwight Olds Chair in Law, University of Houston Law Center

JEAN BRAUCHER
Roger Henderson Professor of Law, University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

MARK ELLIOTT BUDNITZ
Professor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law

MICHAEL M. GREENFIELD
George Alexander Madill Professor of Contracts and Commercial Law, Washington University in Saint Louis - School of Law

ALVIN C. HARRELL
Professor of Law, Oklahoma City University - School of Law

CREOLA JOHNSON
Professor of Law, Ohio State University - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

DEE PRIDGEN
Associate Dean and Professor of Law, University of Wyoming College of Law

IAIN D. C. RAMSAY
Professor of Law, University of Kent, Canterbury - Kent Law School

RALPH J. ROHNER
Professor of Law, Catholic University of America - Columbus School of Law

NORMAN I. SILBER
Associate Dean for Intellectual Life and Professor of Law, Hofstra University School of Law