Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Way, way back when I started Outside Counsel one of the areas that I thought we'd cover a great deal was privacy. I proposed teaching a class on Privacy Law to the law school, but that went nowhere; I gave some presentations on privacy here and there; I testified about it for a New York State commission on the  subject. I wrote a little bit about it-- it is a natural extension of my interest in surveillance, which is probably the topic I have published on most frequently.

The truth is that the cat is out of the bag and the horse is out of the barn: there really is no such thing as privacy any more, and the law has not really caught up with this reality. When I was researching the subject for the proposed law school course it seemed to me that one of the differences between the Western European approach and the US approach  is  that in Europe the right of privacy is viewed as a civil right, while in the US it mostly flows from the Fourth Amendment, and is largely a right held in the context of protecting the individual from over-reaching criminal investigations.

Amazon's Echo is an always on internet device with an interactive "assistant" called Alexa. If you address Alexa you can ask it questions, or order stuff from Amazon, or do other internet-y things. So can the police obtain your Amazon Echo records without a warrant? What are the limitations on a search with a warrant? What are the admissiblity rules? Is there an expectation of privacy when one talks to what is, essentially, a robot?

| Comments:
How very Neuromancer. At the point of singularity, will that robot be a person?

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