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Home > Past Releases and Reports > Releases Major Study on State Privacy Protection

For Immediate Release
July 23, 2002

Contact: Jim Harper

(202) 546-3701 Releases Major Study on State Privacy Protection

State Tort Law Protects Americans, Allows Beneficial Uses of Information

Washington, D.C. released a major study today that explores the existence and impact of state privacy law. Though poorly recognized, the state privacy torts provide baseline protections for privacy, while allowing innovative and beneficial uses of information to go forward.

The study is called "The Privacy Torts: How U.S. State Law Quietly Leads the Way in Privacy Protection." It is available on the Privacilla Web site at

On the release of the study, Editor Jim Harper said, "American law protects privacy, and policymakers at the state, federal, and international levels need to know it. Lawmakers have been unaware of the existence and clear merits of state privacy law for far too long." In addition to discussing the history and basis of state privacy protection law, the report makes several conclusions.

State law provides comprehensive baseline protections for privacy that apply to all information, online and off. The report faults pro-regulation privacy advocates for perpetuating widespread ignorance of existing law and needlessly hyping threats to privacy. There are important criticisms of state law, and the report challenges advocates to "say so directly and articulate what is inadequate about existing protections."

The Privacilla report argues that using litigation to protect privacy is dramatically superior to using regulation aimed at the same ends. It also criticizes the regulatory fad of "notice-and-choice" privacy protection as "a technocratic approach that cannot succeed."

The report cites the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act as examples of law that promised greater privacy protection, but ended up guaranteeing government access to personal and private information.

Later this week, Editor Jim Harper will appear at the National Conference of State Legislatures and speak in his capacity as an Adjunct Fellow with The Progress & Freedom Foundation. ( is an innovative Web site that captures "privacy" as a public policy issue. Privacilla has been described as a "privacy policy portal" and an "online think-tank."


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