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Mass Media Law

The Printing Press to the Internet

Arthur S. Hayes

Digital media law is now the dynamic legal territory. Mass Media Law: The Printing Press to the Internet is a textbook designed to introduce students to the panoply of legal theories raised by the Internet revolution as well as those supporting traditional media. The book takes a historical approach beginning with the printing press and the telegraph and proceeding to the digital technologies of today, such as social media and search engines. Concepts such as defamation, broadcast regulation, privacy, and free expression are covered along with new media legal theories including Internet exceptionalism, cyber libertarianism, and digital speech and democratic culture. These are introduced to explain why traditional theories such as First Amendment medium-specific analysis, common carriage, and network neutrality are just as relevant today as they were in the early twentieth century. In order to help readers develop critical reasoning skills, each chapter opens with a highly readable realworld vignette and goes on to identify and explain legal doctrines and tests. Key passages from court opinions are highlighted, and each chapter closes with a list of online media law resources and thought-provoking questions, including legal hypotheticals, to give readers a solid understanding of the area in question. Mass Media Law is designed to be the main text and a valuable resource for undergraduate and graduate courses covering media, mass communication, free expression, and journalism law.


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6. Privacy


C H A P T E R S I X Privacy CONTROVERSY: As the first decade of the 21st century ended, more Americans voiced concerns about privacy. They questioned whether they were paying too high a price to hook up with “friends,” see views of strangers’ front doors around the world, buy books via the Internet, or surf the Web. The high price was a loss of privacy. Companies, such as Facebook and Google, were selling personal data to advertisers without obtaining explicit consent from users. Online users targeted Facebook in 2009 and 2010. Each time, the biggest social net- working site changed users’ privacy settings in response to complaints, it seemed as though users lost more control of their privacy instead. There were calls for boycotts against Facebook, and four Facebook users led a class action lawsuit against the network in 2010. Google managed to draw government scrutiny and the ire of individuals. Probes by several countries, including the U.S., showed that its Street View project had inadvertently intercepted emails, passwords, and URLs from unencrypted Wi-Fi net- works. Earlier, a Franklin Park, Pennsylvania, couple sued Google, arguing that Street View online mapping invaded their privacy. Google settled the novel federal lawsuit for $1, acknowledging that its Street View vehicle had trespassed when it photographed the couple’s private road.1In December 2010, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a report endorsing a “do not track” list that would allow users to opt out of having their online activity tracked and sold....

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