The George Washington University Law School
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  • SF Chronicle -- Deborah Gage, Faces of Business 2007: Joanne McNabb, California Privacy Chief, (Dec. 17, 2007):
    She's read a new book by a law professor at George Washington University, Daniel Solove, another of her advisers, and she's decided California needs better laws. The book suggests ways that privacy laws could be tweaked without burdening the courts with more cases. For example, employers who run searches on job applicants could notify people about what they've found and give them a chance to explain. . . .
  • Tech News World -- Katherine Noyes, Pew Study: Self-Googling on the Rise, (Dec. 17, 2007)
    Rather than assuming people are less concerned with privacy, however, a better conclusion from the report might be that the meaning of privacy has changed, Daniel J. Solove, an associate professor of law at the George Washington University Law School and author of the book, The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor and Privacy on the Internet, told TechNewsWorld.

    "I think it is true that people are currently not aware of the consequences of their online reputations," Solove said. "This is all relatively new, so many people are putting information online without having experienced the dark side or realizing the damage it could do to themselves or others. That's definitely a big problem."

    The fact that people are comfortable having information about them online does not, however, mean that they don't expect privacy, Solove added.

    "The idea that privacy is about keeping deep, dark secrets hidden has become an almost antiquated notion," he explained. "Today, there are lots of other things people want, including control over the information so that it doesn't get used in certain ways."

    People may be comfortable having information publicly available, for example, but they might not be comfortable if it were used for advertising purposes, he said.

    "These results are very interesting, but how you interpret the data going into the future is fairly complicated because it depends on what we understand privacy to be," Solove concluded. "Some people haven't been bitten yet, and we're also dealing with nuanced understandings of privacy. But you can't conclude privacy is dead."

  • USA Today -- Greg Toppo, Town May Criminalize Online Harassment, (Nov. 20, 2007)
  • PC World -- Heather Haverstein, New Facebook Ad Techniques Raise Privacy Concerns, (Nov. 10, 2007)
  • Associated Press -- Christopher Leonard, Former Staffer Says Governor Monitored Personal Emails, (Nov. 5, 2007)
  • Washington Post Express -- Katherine Silkatis, Generation Google: Daniel Solove on Privacy, ( Nov. 5, 2007)
  • KERA (radio) -- Think with Chris Boyd (Aug. 5, 2007)
  • Washington Post -- Literary Calendar (Nov. 4, 2007)
  • Onion AV Club -- Chris Mincher, Feature: Daniel J. Solove (Nov., 2007)
  • KQED (radio) -- Forum with Michael Kransy, Online Reputation (Oct. 26, 2007)
  • KVON (radio) -- Late Mornings with Jeff Schecthm, The Future of Reputation (Oct. 26, 2007)
  • Tierney Lab (NY Times) -- John Tierney, Talking Nasty on the Net (Oct. 22, 2007)
  • FindLaw -- John Dean, Why, Even if You Have Nothing to Hide, Government Surveillance Threatens Your Freedom (Oct. 19, 2007)
    For several years I have been reading the work of George Washington University Law School Professor Daniel J. Solove, who writes extensively about privacy in the context of contemporary digital technology. The current apathy about government surveillance brought to mind his essay "'I've Got Nothing To Hide' And Other Misunderstandings of Privacy."

    Professor Solove's deconstruction of the "I've got nothing to hide" position, and related justifications for government surveillance, is the best brief analysis of this issue I have found. These arguments are not easy to zap because, once they are on the table, they can set the terms of the argument. As Solove explains, "the problem with the nothing to hide argument is with its underlying assumption that privacy is about hiding bad things." He warns, "Agreeing with this assumption concedes far too much ground and leads to an unproductive discussion of information people would likely want or not want to hide." Solove's bottom line is that this argument "myopically views privacy as a form of concealment or secrecy."

    In his work, Solove addresses the reality that privacy problems differ: Not all are equal; some are more harmful than others. Most importantly, he writes, "to understand privacy, we must conceptualize it and its value more pluralistically." Through several years of work, Solove has developed a more nuanced concept of privacy that rebuts the idea that there is a "one-size-fits-all conception of privacy."

    The concept of "privacy" encompasses many ideas relating to the proper and improper use and abuse of information about people within society. Privacy protects information not only because it would cause others to think less of the person at issue, but also simply to give us all breathing room: "Society involves a great deal of friction," Solove writes, "and we are constantly clashing with each other. Part of what makes a society a good place in which to live is the extent to which it allows people freedom from the intrusiveness of others. A society without privacy protection would be suffocation, and it might not be a place in which most would want to live."

    Professor Solove's work - much of which he makes available online - helps clarify thinking about privacy in its fuller context, and helps explain what is wrong with reductive dismissals of privacy using the mantra, "I've got nothing to hide." Before rushing to give the Bush Administration more ways to invade our privacy, not to mention absolving those who have confederated with him to engage in the most massive invasion of America privacy ever, members of Congress should look at Solove's work. Too many of them have no idea what privacy is all about, and grossly underestimate the value of this complex and essential concept.

  • KZSU (radio) -- Hearsay Culture with David Levine, Interview with Daniel Solove (Oct. 10, 2007)
  • Daily Princetonian -- Michelle Wu, Internet Heightens Privacy Concerns (Oct. 9, 2007)
  • LA Times -- Gregory Rodriguez, YouTube Vigilantes (Aug. 5, 2007)
    A few years ago, George Washington University law professor Daniel J. Solove wrote an essay in which he challenged the idea that the threat to our privacy in the Internet age is akin to the constant surveillance of Big Brother. Referring primarily to the scores of public and private agencies collecting data on us all, Solove argued that a better metaphor for life in cyberspace is Kafka's "The Trial," the story of Joseph K., a man who awakens one morning to find he is under arrest and then begins a frustrating quest to discover why. As K. wanders the city, encountering a farrago of lawyers, priests, citizens and functionaries, his impotence and paranoia expand. In the end, he faces no direct accusers, never has a day in court, and condemns himself.
  • Time -- Anita Hamilton, Finding Ways to Snoop Online (Aug. 2, 2007)
  • CNET News -- Elinor Mills, Are Google's Moves Creeping You Out (June 12, 2007)
  • Hartford Courant -- William Weir, Slight to Privacy (May 23, 2007)
  • USA Today -- Jon Swartz & Byron Acohido, Who's Guarding Your Data in Cybervault? (Apr. 2, 2007)
  • ABC Evening News -- Ron Claiborn, No Scarlet Letter: Shaming Online (Mar. 28, 2007)
  • State Bar of California e-journal -- Diane Curtis, Law Professor Jabs Bar Exam (Mar. 2007)
    It takes a minute or two to realize that Daniel Solove is pulling our collective legs. The title of his article in the May 2006 issue of the Michigan Law Review is “The Multistate Bar Exam as a Theory of Law,” and it’s got the usual academic citations and deadly serious, pedantic tone. . . .

    In a phone interview from his George Washington office, Solove, who teaches information privacy law, criminal procedure, criminal law and law and literature, said he is very serious in his belief that the Multistate Bar Exam is a "waste of time" that has no connection to a person's ability to practice law. But, he added, he wanted to take a humorous approach in the Law Review to the issue and poke "a little bit of fun at its understanding of the law."


  • Chicago Tribune -- David Greising & John McCormick, Users Can Search But They Can't Hide (Dec. 24, 2006)

  • Money Magazine -- Pat Regnier & Jeanne Sahadi, The Complete Layman's Guide to Cyber Safety (Dec. 2006)
  • CBS Radio KNX 1070 Los Angeles -- Who's Watching You (Nov. 16, 2006)
  • New York Times – Gary Rivlin, Keeping Your Enemies Close (Nov. 12, 2006)
  • Washington Post – Amy Argetsinger & Roxanne Roberts, A Rare Suit in Blog-land (Nov. 3, 2006)
  • CNBC – Documentary: Big Brother Big Business (Nov. 1, 2006)
  • – Bob Sullivan, 'Le Difference' Is Stark in EU, U.S. Privacy Laws (Oct. 18, 2006)
  • DM News – Robert Gellman, Defining Our Terms (Oct. 6, 2006) (reviewing Solove's article, A Taxonomy of Privacy)
    I have never reviewed a law journal article before, but a recent one is of great value to anyone following privacy. Don't be put off by the reputation that law journal articles have for monumental footnotes. This one is readable and worth reading. You can skip the footnotes.

    Dan Solove, associate professor of law at George Washington University, wrote A Taxonomy of Privacy to identify privacy problems in a comprehensive, concrete manner. He succeeded brilliantly. . . .

    The taxonomy is a great advance over prior attempts to categorize privacy. The four classic privacy torts defined more than 40 years ago are virtually prehistoric. They are rarely relevant to modern information privacy violations. . . .

    My guess is that Professor Solove’s article eventually will be recognized as a milestone in privacy scholarship. It should change for the better how we talk about privacy and how we think about privacy.

  • Washington Post – Dahlia Lithwick, Is Anything Private Anymore? (July 30, 2006) (also on

    First Amendment wizard Eugene Volokh opposes most regulation of privacy information on free speech grounds. Judge Richard A. Posner similarly says the law shouldn't protect against the dissemination of even sordid information, since we need it to form accurate judgments about others.

    Not so, writes Daniel Solove , an associate law professor at George Washington University. He argues that we can't be free unless we can protect some tiny piece of ourselves from the judgments of others. . . .


  • Associated PressState Looks to Track Drivers (Oct. 9, 2005)
  • CBS News Sunday Morning – Vince Gonzales, Private (Oct. 2, 2005)
  • Associated PressID Theft Insurance Not Always a Good Option (Oct. 2, 2005)
  • Oprah Magazine – Andrea Rock, Invasion of the Privacy Snatchers (Oct. 2005)
  • Heise Online (Germany) – Ralf Grötker, Wir Machen Mit! (Sept. 29, 2005)
  • Globe and Mail (Toronto) – Mathew Ingram, Cellphone Vigilantes Take on Role of Big Brother (Sept. 15, 2005)
  • Privacy Piracy (Radio FM 88.9 Irvine CA) – Mari Frank, Interview with Daniel Solove (Sept. 6, 2005)
  • Money Magazine – Pat Regnier & Amanda Gengler, The Identity Theft Protection Racket (Aug. 22, 2005)
    Privacy expert Daniel Solove of George Washington University goes even further: Credit agencies should be required to inform people about inquiries into their credit. The law already says agencies must do their best to ensure "maximum possible accuracy" in their reports, Solove says, adding, "Why should credit agencies be selling the consumer something that helps the consumer ensure they are being accurate?"
  • BNA Privacy & Security Law -- Michael Bologna, Denial of Access to Marine's E-Mail Raises Issue of Privacy After Death (Mar. 7, 2005)
  • The Inside Scoop (Radio & TV) -- Mark Levine, Hour-long Interview with Solove on The Digital Person (Feb. 28, 2005)
  • Globe & Mail (Canada) -- Barrie McKenna, Data Mining Brought to the Surface (Feb. 28, 2005)
  • New York Times -- John Schwartz, Some Sympathy for Paris Hilton (Feb. 27, 2005)
  • The Macon Telegraph -- Quotes Worth Repeating from the Last Week (Feb. 26, 2005)
  • AP -- Leslie Miller, Privacy Advocates Criticize Homeland Dept. (Feb. 25, 2005)
  • ABA Journal -- Steve Seidenberg, Wiretap Law Blocks Software Evidence (Feb. 25, 2005)
  • MSNBC -- Bob Sullivan, ChoicePoint Theft Prompts Senate Investigation (Feb. 24, 2005)
    But legislation proposed so far is only a tepid first step towards a solution, warned George Washington University professor Daniel Solove, author of a new book on the data brokerage industry, The Digital Person.

    "(The proposed legislation) is better than nothing, but it still needs to go further. There are a lot of unaddressed questions," he said.

    Giving consumers access to their records at each company is meaningless if people don't know which companies to ask, Solove said.

    "(The legislation) doesn't really address issues such as how are people to know who these companies are? Many people hadn't heard of ChoicePoint," he said. "And it's not just ChoicePoint. There are hundreds of data brokers. If you don't know who the companies are what good is a right of access?"



  • Newark Star-Ledger -- Robert Schwaneberg, Hearings Set on Shielding Addresses (Nov. 4, 2003)

  • Richmond Times-Dispatch – Peter Hardin, Some Privacy Advocates are Concerned About the Specter of Big Brother (Oct. 30, 2003)
  • NJ Law Journal – Jim Edwards, Panel Will Urge Exemptions for OPRA Requests (Sept. 15, 2003)
  • NJ Law Journal – Jim Edwards, Lawyers Oddly Mum on Proposed Public Records Act Revamp (July 25, 2003)
  • NJ Lawyer – William Young, The New Cop-Speak: Beware a Person of Interest (July 7, 2003)
  • Malibu Times -- Massiel Ladron De Guevara, Streisand Adds to Privacy Legal Battle with Web Posting (June 17, 2003)
  • SF Weekly -- Peter Byrne, Big Doctor Is Watching (May 28, 2003)
    But Daniel Solove, an associate professor at Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey who has written extensively in national legal journals about Fourth Amendment protections of electronic records, says it is unreasonable to exclude medical records from constitutional protection against unwarranted government search or seizure. "That HIPAA allows law enforcement to take action on a mere administrative subpoena is unconstitutional," Solove says. "For centuries, it has been reasonable for people to expect their doctors to keep their intimate confidences under the Hippocratic oath and the common law."
  • PC World -- Carla Thornton, New Phones Raise Privacy Fears (Jan. 2003)
  • Toronto Star – Tyler Hamilton, Getting to Know You (Regulatory Datacorp) (Jan. 18, 2003)
  • Yaeshora -- El Problema de la Privacidad de la Información en Internet: Profesor Daniel Solove (2003)



  • Business Week -- Jane Black, In Times Like These, Security Trumps Privacy (Sept. 24, 2001)

  • New York Times – Carl Kaplan, Concern Over Proposed Changes in Internet Surveillance (Sept. 21, 2001)
  • Business Week -- Jane Black, Don't Smile, You're on Surveillance Camera (Aug. 9, 2001)
  • New York Times – John Schwartz, Privacy Policy Notices Are Called Too Common and Too Confusing (May 7, 2001)
  • The Daily Princetonian -- Michael Grabell, Finding an Allegory for Net Privacy Issues (Feb. 21, 2001)
    As the "e-volution" spirals into its golden age, net privacy is increasingly a salient concern for computer scientists and civil rights experts. To describe what they believe to be the lack of privacy online, many television commentators, politicians and academics evoke the Orwellian image of "Big Brother."

    But is the "Big Brother" image a correct one? According to Seton Hall law professor Daniel Solove, "Kafkaesque" is a more applicable literary metaphor for net privacy. Solove, who teaches a course on privacy, argues in a 70-page thesis that the behind-the-scenes gathering of information more closely resembles Franz Kafka's "The Trial" — in which mysterious officials build a dossier about the main character — than George Orwell's images of "Big Brother's" constant surveillance in "1984."

  • Latino Tek -- Vida Privada: ¿Orwell o Kafka? (Feb. 16, 2001)
  • Radio Canada – Anne-Marie Charbonneau, Attention Aux Références Littéraires (Feb. 15, 2001)
  • – Jule Krassovsky, Vous êtes plutôt Kafka ou Orwell ? (Feb. 8, 2001)
  • New York Times – Carl Kaplan, Kafkaesque? Big Brother? Finding the Right Literary Metaphor for Net Privacy (Feb. 2, 2001)
    It's customary these days for many legal thinkers, journalists and just plain civilians to use the phrase "Big Brother" when bemoaning the loss of privacy created by the rise of computerized databases which track an individual's every move in cyberspace.

    The slogan is great to toss around at conferences and parties. But people who take books and ideas seriously might well ask: is Big Brother -- the personification of an all-seeing totalitarian government depicted in George Orwell's novel "1984" -- the best metaphor to describe the privacy problems of the Internet Age?

    According to Daniel J. Solove, an assistant professor at Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey who teaches a course in privacy, the answer is no.

    In a 70-page article that Solove said he hopes to publish in a major law review in the fall, and which is available as a working draft on the Internet, Solove set his sights upon an alternative nightmare. He wrote that Franz Kafka's harrowing tale "The Trial" better explains the texture and feel of the privacy problems of today.

    The battle of the metaphors is much more than a literary parlor game, said Solove in his article, "Privacy and Power: Computer Databases and Metaphors for Information Privacy." The way a problem is framed determines its solution, he suggested. And if lawmakers are to come up with adequate responses to the lack of privacy online, they need to fully understand the nature of the beast. In short, if they read books, they should read more Kafka and less Orwell.

    In his article, which is an entertaining hybrid of legal scholarship and literary discussion, Solove recalled that Orwell's novel depicts an oppressive government that regulates every aspect of existence -- even one's private thoughts. . . .

    For Solove, Big Brother is an apt metaphor to describe the effects of surveillance and the invasion of a person's secret or private world. But that doesn't get at the heart of the computer database threat, he said.