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Working Paper

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Boston University School of Law




Intimate life is under constant surveillance. Firms track people’s periods, hot flashes, abortions, sexual assaults, sex toy use, sexual fantasies, and nude photos. Individuals hardly appreciate the extent of the monitoring, and even if they did, little can be done to curtail it. What is big business for firms is a big risk for individuals. The handling of intimate data undermines the values that sexual privacy secures—autonomy, dignity, intimacy, and equality. It can imperil people’s job, housing, insurance, and other crucial opportunities. More often, women and minorities shoulder a disproportionate amount of the burden.

Privacy law is failing us. Our consumer protection approach offers little protection. Not only is the private-sector’s handling of intimate information largely unrestrained, but it is treated as normative. This Article offers a new compact for the protection of intimate information. Fundamental civil rights and liberties, along with consumer protection, is at stake. The new compact seeks to stem the tidal wave of collection, restrict certain uses of intimate data, and expand the suite of remedies available to courts. It draws upon the lessons of civil rights law in moving beyond procedural protections and in authorizing injunctive relief, including orders to stop processing intimate data.


forthcoming publication in William & Mary Law Review

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