Solove, Daniel J. 1972–

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Solove, Daniel J. 1972–


Born 1972. Education: Washington University, A.B.; Yale Law School, J.D.


Office—George Washington University Law School, 2000 H St. N.W., Washington, DC 20052. E-mail—[email protected].


U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC, law clerk for the Honorable Stanley Sporkin; Arnold & Porter, Washington, DC, associate; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, law clerk for the Honorable Pamela Ann Rymer; Seton Hall Law School, Newark, NJ, faculty member, 2000-04; George Washington University Law School, faculty member, 2004—.


Phi Beta Kappa; Electronic Privacy Information Center (advisory board member); Law and Humanities Institute (board member).


(With Marc Rotenberg) Information Privacy Law, Aspen Publishers (New York, NY), 2003, 2nd edition (with Marc Rotenberg and Paul M. Schwartz), 2006.

The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Marc Rotenberg, and Paul M. Schwartz) Privacy, Information, and Technology, Aspen Publishers (New York, NY), 2006.

The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2007.

Understanding Privacy, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2008.

Also author of the blog Concurring Opinions. Contributor of numerous articles to scholarly journals, magazines, and newspapers.


Daniel J. Solove, associate professor of law at the George Washington University Law School, writes widely on the subjects of "information privacy law, cyberspace law, law and literature, jurisprudence, legal pragmatism, and constitutional theory," according to his faculty profile on the school's Web site. Solove is considered an expert on the subject of privacy law and has served as a consultant on major privacy law cases. In addition, his profile states, he has "contributed to amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court, and testified before Congress. He serves on the advisory board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and is on the board of the Law and Humanities Institute." His books on Internet privacy include Privacy, Information, and Technology, The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age, and The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet.

The Digital Person explores how the gathering of personal information in gigantic computer databases threatens privacy. In a synopsis of the book on his faculty profile, Solove states that huge quantities of data about individuals are being amassed in this way, and are used as the basis for decisions that have serious impacts on their lives. Data broker companies, such as ChoicePoint, analyze this information to cre- ate detailed profiles of individuals; these profiles are then sold to other companies that use it to enhance marketing strategies. The information is also used as the basis of credit reports and criminal background checks. Furthermore, the government has begun to obtain access to companies' databases, and is using this information to monitor and profile individuals. These developments, according to Solove, raise problems to which the law has not adequately responded, and for which he proposes "a framework for effective regulation of data collection and use."

In a New York Law School Law Review critique of The Digital Person, Marcey L. Grigsby stated that Solove "provides a detailed examination of the history of the collection and use of personal data by companies in the private sector and a thorough discussion of the disturbing implications such practices raise for personal privacy. He proposes that the law recognize a fiduciary relationship between those companies that collect personal information and the individuals whose information they collect. Doing so, he argues, would subject these companies to heightened fiduciary obligations and, in turn, greater legal liability when data is lost, exposed to theft, or mishandled." Summarizing Solove's survey of data collection procedures, Grigsby observed: "Perhaps more disturbing is that information about each of us is being swept up and compiled for no particular reason at all, and could be used by some future, unknown entity for purposes of which we cannot now conceive."

Solove argues that existing privacy laws are inadequate to address threats to personal privacy from the personal data collection industry. Existing privacy law focuses on redressing particular harms done to individuals; digital privacy matters, however, do not fall within this framework. The type of information collected, for example, is not necessarily secret—yet it can be used in ways that are harmful to the individual concerned. Solove's proposal for remedying this situation is to require collectors of personal information to act as fiduciaries, with attendant responsibilities. Grigsby acknowledged the appeal of this argument, but found it problematic because it is "inconsistent with the way courts analyze relationships to determine whether they are fiduciary in nature"; and it "would convert nearly every buyer-seller transaction into a fiduciary relationship" and it rests on an unfounded "claim that fiduciary law is flexible enough to apply to this situation."

"The Digital Person is an excellent summary of the current law of privacy and the problems thereof," wrote James H. Johnston in the Legal Times. "If you want to find out what a mess the law of privacy is, how it got that way, and whether there is hope for the future, then read this book."

In The Future of Reputation, Solove discusses changes in the nature of privacy, and in legal approaches to protecting it, in the cyberspace age. The growth of the Internet, as the book makes clear, has profoundly altered concepts of privacy. Personal Web logs, and popular sites such as MySpace and YouTube, routinely feature personal material that is often posted without the consent, or even knowledge, of the relevant parties. Responses to this circumstance tend to be polarized: either accepting that privacy cannot be guaranteed, and is at best an illusion; or resisting any attempt to gather personal information.

About the abuse to one's reputation that can occur when negative materials about an individual show up on the Internet, Solove writes that legal recourses should be available to those who feel they have suffered damage. But he emphasizes that authoritarian legislation that bans outright any particular type of speech or activity should not be allowed. He argues that wronged individuals should be able to bring tort, defamation, and privacy claims, but only after demonstrating that they have first attempted to settle the matter outside court and that real harm has been done. Mark Williams, writing in the Technology Review, observed, "Beneath Solove's legal suggestions rests a keen insight about the extent to which the Internet changes basic questions about privacy." Solove discusses the complexity of determining when a person should have the right to assume privacy. It seems obvious, for example, that people should not reasonably expect privacy when they are out in public. But other situations are less clear-cut: Williams cites the example of a person who conveys confidential information, perhaps about being HIV-positive, to several friends, one of whom then shares the information outside of the circle of confidantes. As Williams explains, Solove, "proposes using socialnetwork theory, which analyzes social relationships in terms of nodes (individual actors within a network) and ties (the relationships between those actors), to determine when a reasonable expectation of privacy exists."

Wilson Quarterly critic Gary Alan Fine found Solove's anecdotes and illustrations "dramatic and exceptional," a point also made by Michael Stern in the AmericanLawyer, who went on to observe that "Solove's description of the problem is much more powerful than his prescription for addressing it."

Understanding Privacy presents an interdisciplinary overview of the subject and explains why protection of privacy remains a complex and contested issue. The book also proposed practical guidelines for dealing more effectively and fairly with privacy issues.

Solove has also written the textbooks Privacy, Information, and Technology, with Marc Rotenberg and Paul M. Schwartz, and Information Privacy Law, with Rotenberg as coauthor of the first edition and Rotenberg and Schwartz as coauthors of the second edition.



Solove, Daniel J., The Digital Person: Technology and Privacy in the Information Age, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Solove, Daniel J., The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2007.

Solove, Daniel J., Understanding Privacy, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2008.


American Lawyer, December 1, 2007, Michael Stern, review of The Future of Reputation, p. 97.

Bookwatch, May 1, 2005, review of The Digital Person.

Cato Journal, September 22, 2005, Jim Harper, review of The Digital Person, p. 641.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May 1, 2005, S.E. Frantzich, review of The Digital Person, p. 1663; June 1, 2007, S.E. Frantzich, review of The Digital Person, p. 1669.

Christian Science Monitor, December 28, 2004, "We Know Everything about You; the Real Threat to Privacy Isn't a Giant All-Knowing Government—It's a Thousand Smaller Spies," p. 17.

Georgetown Law Journal, April 1, 2006, Neil M. Richards, review of The Digital Person, p. 1087.

Law and Politics Book Review, February 1, 2005, Philip A. Dynia, review of The Digital Person, p. 121.

Legal Times, January 10, 2005, James H. Johnston, review of The Digital Person.

Maclean's, November 19, 2007, "Finally, a Book about … Internet Shaming," p. 168.

New York Law School Law Review, September 22, 2006, Marcey L. Grigsby, review of The Digital Person, p. 1031.

Reference & Research Book News, May 1, 2006, review of Information Privacy Law.

Technology Review, November, 2007, Mark Williams, review of The Future of Reputation, p. 84.

Wilson Quarterly, winter, 2008, Gary Alan Fine, "Everybody's Business," p. 92.


Daniel J. Solove Home Page, (April 20, 2008).

George Washington University Law School Web site, (April 20, 2008), faculty profile.

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Solove, Daniel J. 1972–

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