Technology: Corporate Legal Fiction Not to Be Taken Personally When It Comes to Privacy

Alan WernickThe news media, Internet commentators and others have, for some time now, been examining the evolving issues of personal privacy rights, and will continue to do so for some time into the future. Indeed, personal privacy issues must be proactively confronted with critical analysis to better enable a more frictionless environment for the World Wide Web to continue evolving and growing. Whether activity occurs at the local shopping mall or on the Internet, issues concerning personal privacy rights impact that activity in one way or another.

But, what if the activity is done by a corporation - a legal fiction? Do corporations have an expectation of "personal privacy?" Consider the language of the Freedom of Information Act exemption ?7(C). This exemption covers law enforcement records, where the disclosure "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." In a recent United States Supreme Court case, FCC vs. AT&T Inc., the Supreme Court held in a unanimous decision that corporations do not have "personal privacy" rights for the purposes of the FOIA exemption ?7(C).

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Alan Wernick

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