Intellectual Privacy: Rethinking Civil Liberties in the Digital Age

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Most people believe that our rights to privacy and free speech are inevitably in conflict. Courts all over the world have struggled with how to reconcile the two for over a century, and the rise of the Internet has made this problem more urgent. We live in an age of corporate and government surveillance of our lives. And our free speech culture has created an anything-goes environment on the web, filled with hurtful and harmful expression and data flows. In Intellectual Privacy, Neil Richards offers a solution that ensures that our ideas and values keep pace with our technologies. Because of the importance of free speech to open societies, he argues that when privacy and free speech truly conflict, free speech should almost always win. But in sharp contrast to conventional wisdom, Richards argues that speech and privacy are only rarely in conflict. True invasions of privacy like peeping toms or electronic surveillance should almost never be protected as "free speech." And critically, Richards shows how most of the law we enact to protect online privacy poses no serious burden to public debate, and how protecting the privacy of our data is not censorship. A timely and provocative book on a subject that affects us all, Intellectual Privacy will radically reshape the debate about privacy and free speech in our digital age.


Privacy law, Digital Privacy, Internet, Surveillance, First Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Thought

Publication Citation

Neil Richards, Intellectual Privacy: Rethinking Civil Liberties in the Digital Age (2015)


Published by Oxford University Press

ISBN: 9780199946143