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Freedom of Speech and Information Privacy: The Troubling Implications of a Right to Stop People from Speaking about You

Eugene Volokh
Stanford Law Review
Vol. 52, No. 5, Symposium: Cyberspace and Privacy: A New Legal Paradigm? (May, 2000), pp. 1049-1124
Published by: Stanford Law Review
DOI: 10.2307/1229510
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1229510
Page Count: 76
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Freedom of Speech and Information Privacy: The Troubling Implications of a Right to Stop People from Speaking about You
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Abstract

Proposed "information privacy" rules that give us the power to "control... information about ourselves" sound undeniably appealing. The First Amendment, however, generally bars the government from "control[ling the communication] of information," either by direct regulation or through the authorization of private lawsuits. This article argues that: (1) While privacy protection secured by contract turns out to be constitutionally sound, broader information privacy rules are not easily defensible under existing free speech law. (2) Creating new free speech exceptions to accommodate information privacy speech restrictions could have many unfortunate and unforeseen consequences. Most of the justifications given for information privacy speech restraints are directly applicable to other speech control proposals that have already been suggested, and accepting these justifications in the attractive case of information privacy speech restrictions would create a powerful precedent for those other restraints.

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