The Death of Privacy?

52 Stan. L. Rev. 1461 (2000)

84 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2016

See all articles by A. Michael Froomkin

A. Michael Froomkin

University of Miami - School of Law; Yale University - Yale Information Society Project

Date Written: 2000


The rapid deployment of privacy-destroying technologies by governments and businesses threatens to make informational privacy obsolete. The first part of this article describes a range of current technologies to which the law has yet to respond effectively. These include: routine collection of transactional data, growing automated surveillance in public places, deployment of facial recognition technology and other biometrics, cell-phone tracking, vehicle tracking, satellite monitoring, workplace surveillance, internet tracking from cookies to “clicktrails,” hardware-based identifiers, intellectual property protecting “snitchware,” and sense-enhanced searches that allow observers to see through everything from walls to clothes. The cumulative and reinforcing effect of these technologies may make modern life completely visible and permeable to observers; there could be nowhere to hide. The second part of the article discusses leading attempts to craft legal responses to the assault on privacy – including self-regulation, privacy-enhancing technologies, data-protection law, and property-rights based solutions – in the context of three structural obstacles to privacy enhancement: consumers’ privacy myopia; important First Amendment protections of rights to collect and repeat information; and fear of what other people may do if not monitored. The article concludes that despite the warnings of information privacy pessimists, all is not lost – yet.

Keywords: privacy, surveillance, biometrics, First Amendment, cyberlaw

Suggested Citation

Froomkin, A. Michael, The Death of Privacy? (2000). 52 Stan. L. Rev. 1461 (2000), Available at SSRN:

A. Michael Froomkin (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States
305-284-4285 (Phone)
305-284-6506 (Fax)

Yale University - Yale Information Society Project ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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