A recent California ruling ordering Twitter to unmask an anonymous critic of a UK local government council raises the question of whether foreign privacy law will be applied in the US. In this case, the ruling deprived someone of privacy (the anonymous online critic), but the outcome seeks to suggest that a US company may be subject to foreign privacy law, even if it conflicts with First Amendment principles. This would give force to EU Justice Minister Reding’s announced privacy pillar of “protection regardless of the data location.”
The University of Denver Law Review today presented a Syposium on “Cyber Civil Rights: New Challenges for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Our Networked Age.” Hogan & Hartson partner (and privacy group co-chair) Christopher Wolf delivered remarks on “Accountability for Online Hate Speech: What Are The Lessons From ‘Unmasking’ Laws?” Chris observed that online anonymity and the privacy it protects can be used as a sword to injure the human dignity of others who are victimized by hate speech. He examined the limitations of legal tools and proposed a self-regulatory scheme for online companies. A copy of his remarks can be obtained through a link on this entry in the Hogan & Hartson Chronicle of Data Protection.