By Paul M. Schwartz, San Francisco Chronicle
William Prosser, the dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, altered the path of American law in 1960. He did so with an article, simply titled “Privacy,” in our law school’s California Law Review. This article had an unparalleled influence on the development of the law, one still felt today.
When someone sues another for harm to his privacy, whether or not he knows it, he relies on the Prosser approach. Prosser defined the right of privacy as protecting individuals against certain highly offensive invasions.
After publication of his article, state courts and legislatures quickly adopted his framework, and today the vast majority of jurisdictions follow it. It’s Prosser’s world of privacy that we live in.
Prosser’s tradition of the protection of privacy continues at Berkeley Law and the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology.
In 2002, Professor Deirdre Mulligan worked with Sen. Joe Simitian to develop California’s data-breach notification law, which was the nation’s first. The consequence? If a company in California loses your personal information, it has to tell you exactly what happened.
Wondering about who is watching you online? Professor Chris Hoofnagle has revealed new secret methods that companies use to monitor users online, and he has advanced the cause of privacy in Web surfing.
Professor Jason Schulz and Jennifer Urban of the law school’s Samuelson clinic have played a key role in persuading the California Public Utilities Commission to adopt the nation’s first set of rules protecting the privacy and security of information gathered by smart meters. These rules are critical as Pacific Gas & Electric and other utility companies install these devices in our homes.
For American businesses, one of the biggest worries today is how international privacy regulations affect their bottom line. Since arriving at Berkeley in 2005, I have sought to bridge the gap of understanding in this country and elsewhere concerning international privacy law.
The protection of privacy rights must continue, and Berkeley Law will be in the vanguard of this effort.