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Scalia: Free Speech Trumps Privacy Online
by Wendy Davis
Some lawmakers are talking about enacting new online privacy laws, but at least one U.S. Supreme Court Judge has indicated that such laws might not be constitutional.Earlier this year, conservative judge Antonin Scalia said new privacy laws would conflict with the First Amendment. The remarks, made at an event held by the Institute of American and Talmudic Law, were in response to comments made by Jules Polonetsky, co-chair and director of the think tank Future of Privacy Forum.Polonetsky outlined the various ways that data is collected across different Web platforms and proposed that people need some assurances that the information won’t be used against them. Scalia responded that the First Amendment would prevent much of the privacy protection that Polonetsky seemed to favor.

In a follow-up question, Polonetsky asked Scalia what he thought about a federal law banning video rental stores from disclosing the names of movies customers borrow. That law has particular resonance for Supreme Court judges because it was passed after a newspaper obtained and printed video rental records of nominee Robert Bork. Scalia then softened his position somewhat, to concede that “sensitive” information might warrant privacy protection…more at