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The Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School is an intellectual center that explores the implications of the Internet and new information technologies for law and society. The ISP is guided by the values of democracy, development, and civil liberties. Our work includes copyright, media law and policy, transparency, and privacy.

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Law & Tech: William McGeveran

Date: 
Tuesday, September 27, 2016 - 12:00pm

Friending the Privacy Regulators

According to conventional wisdom, data privacy regulators in the European Union are unreasonably demanding, while their American counterparts are laughably lax. Many observers further assume that any privacy enforcement without monetary fines or other punishment is an ineffective “slap on the wrist.” This Article demonstrates that both of these assumptions are wrong. It uses the simultaneous 2011 investigation of Facebook’s privacy practices by regulators in the United States and Ireland as a case study. These two agencies reached broadly similar conclusions, and neither imposed a traditional penalty. Instead, they utilized “responsive regulation,” where the government emphasizes less adversarial techniques and considers formal enforcement actions more of a last resort.