Ari Waldman / Privacy’s False Promise / 09.18.18

Ari Ezra Waldman is a Professor of Law and the Director of the Innovation Center for Law and Technology at NYLS. He is the Founder and Director of the Institute for CyberSafety, which includes the first-of-its-kind law school pro bono clinic representing victims of online harassment. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a B.A. from Harvard College.

Waldman studies how law and technology mediate online social life, with particular focus on privacy, the design of new technologies, and cyberharassment. In particular, he researches what motivates us to share information online, what can happen to our shared information, how design manipulates our behavior, and the dangers that can result.

Talk: “Privacy’s False Promise”

Abstract: The people we trust with our data are putting our privacy at risk. And yet the laws that are supposed to protect us do not seem to be working. This talk explains why. The law’s veneer of protection is hiding the fact that it is built on a house of cards. Privacy law is failing to deliver its promised protections in part because the responsibility for fulfilling legal obligations is being outsourced to layers of compliance professionals who see privacy law through a corporate, rather than substantive lens. This Article provides the first comprehensive picture of this outsourcing market and argues that the industry’s players are having an outsized and constraining impact on the construction of privacy law in practice. Based on original primary source research into the ecosystem of privacy professionals, lawyers, and the third-party vendors on which they increasingly rely, I argue that because of a multilayered process outsourcing corporate privacy duties—one in which privacy leads outsource privacy compliance responsibilities to their colleagues, their lawyers, and an army of third-party vendors—privacy law is in the middle of a process of legal endogeneity: symbols of compliance are replacing real progress on protecting the privacy of consumers.

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