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How to be Alone: New Dimensions in Privacy Law
  • Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University College of Law

The book, New Dimensions in Privacy Law, has an arresting cover — a pack of paparazzi take photographs, with their flash-bulbs popping and exploding, like starbursts in the sky. The collection explores the valiant efforts of courts and parliaments to defend the privacy of individuals against such unwanted intrusions.

The American essayist and novelist, Jonathan Franzen, has reflected upon the tenuous, derelict state of privacy law:

"The right to privacy — defined by Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren, in 1890, as ‘the right to be let alone’ — seems at first glance to be an elemental principle in American life. It’s the rallying cry of activists fighting for reproductive rights, against stalkers, for the right to die, against a national health-care database, for stronger data-encryption standards, against paparazzi, for the sanctity of employer e-mail, and against employee drug testing. On closer examination, though, privacy proves to be the Cheshire cat of values: not much substance, but a very winning smile. Legally, the concept is a mess. Privacy violation is the emotional core of many crimes, from stalking and rape to Peeping Tommery and trespass, but no criminal statute forbids it in the abstract. He observed that the relevant civil law in the United States is a ‘crumbly set of torts’."

In the marvellous book, New Dimensions in Privacy Law, the editors, Andrew Kenyon and Megan Richardson, seek to shore up the shards and ruins of privacy law, and provide substance and unity to the legal discipline. This collection explores how privacy remains endangered by a host of threats — including the media obsession with fame and celebrity; intellectual property rights; spyware and other intrusive information technologies; and national security concerns in the Age of Terror.

  • Privacy Law,
  • Confidential Information,
  • Copyright Law,
  • Technological Protection Measures,
  • Technoprudence,
  • the War on Terror
Publication Date
Citation Information
Matthew Rimmer. "How to be Alone: New Dimensions in Privacy Law" Media and Arts Law Review.