This essay responds to Daniel Solove’s recent article, A Taxonomy of Privacy. I have read many of Daniel Solove’s privacy-related writings, and he has made many important scholarly contributions to the field. As with his previous works about privacy and the law, it is an interesting and substantive piece of work. Where it falls short, in my estimation, is in failing to label and categorize the very real harms of privacy invasions in an adequately compelling manner. Most commentators agree that compromising a person’s privacy will chill certain behaviors and change others, but a powerful list of the reasons why this is a negative phenomenon that the law should seek to prevent is not a significant attribute of Solove’s taxonomy. That omission left this reader a little concerned about the ultimate usefulness of the privacy framework that Solove has developed. To phrase it colloquially, in this author’s view, the Solove taxonomy of privacy suffers from too much doctrine, and not enough dead bodies. It frames privacy harms in dry, analytical terms that fail to sufficiently identify and animate the compelling ways that privacy violations can negatively impact the lives of living, breathing human beings beyond simply provoking feelings of unease.
A Feeling of Unease About Privacy Law
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