The Irony of Privacy Class Action Litigation

12 Pages Posted: 26 Apr 2012 Last revised: 15 Jan 2013

See all articles by Eric Goldman

Eric Goldman

Santa Clara University - School of Law

Date Written: December 2, 2012


In the past few years, publicized privacy violations have regularly spawned class action lawsuits in the United States, even when the company made a good faith mistake and no victim suffered any quantifiable harm. Privacy advocates often cheer these lawsuits because they generally favor vigorous enforcement of privacy violations, but this essay encourages privacy advocates to reconsider their support for privacy class action litigation. By its nature, class action litigation uses tactics that privacy advocates disavow. Thus, using class action litigation to remediate privacy violations proves to be unintentionally ironic.

Keywords: privacy, class action lawsuits, security, litigation, opt-in, opt-out, notice & choice

JEL Classification: k41, k13

Suggested Citation

Goldman, Eric, The Irony of Privacy Class Action Litigation (December 2, 2012). Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law, Vol. 10, 2012, Santa Clara Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 05-12, Available at SSRN: or

Eric Goldman (Contact Author)

Santa Clara University - School of Law ( email )

500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95053
United States
408-554-4369 (Phone)


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