About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

89 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1 (2021)
The Myth of the Privacy Paradox

handle is hein.journals/gwlr89 and id is 15 raw text is: The Myth of the Privacy Paradox
Daniel J. Solove*
In this Article, Professor Daniel Solove deconstructs and critiques the pri-
vacy paradox and the arguments made about it. The privacy paradox is the
phenomenon where people say that they value privacy highly, yet in their be-
havior relinquish their personal data for very little in exchange or fail to use
measures to protect their privacy.
Commentators typically make one of two types of arguments about the
privacy paradox. On one side, the behavior valuation argument contends
behavior is the best metric to evaluate how people actually value privacy. Be-
havior reveals that people ascribe a low value to privacy or readily trade it
away for goods or services. The argument often goes on to contend that pri-
vacy regulation should be reduced.
On the other side, the behavior distortion argument suggests that peo-
ple's behavior is not an accurate metric of preferences because behavior is
distorted by biases and heuristics, manipulation and skewing, and other
Professor Solove argues instead that the privacy paradox is a myth cre-
ated by faulty logic. The behavior involved in privacy paradox studies in-
volves people making decisions about risk in very specific contexts. In
contrast, people's attitudes about their privacy concerns or how much they
value privacy are much more general in nature. It is a leap in logic to genera-
lize from people's risk decisions involving specific personal data in specific
contexts to reach broader conclusions about how people value privacy.
The behavior in the privacy paradox studies does not lead to a conclusion
for less regulation. On the other hand, minimizing behavioral distortion will
not cure people's failure to protect their own privacy. Managing one's privacy
is a vast, complex, and never-ending project that does not scale. Privacy regu-
lation often seeks to give people more privacy self-management, but doing so
will not protect privacy effectively. Professor Solove argues instead that pri-
vacy law should focus on regulating the architecture that structures the way
information is used, maintained, and transferred.
INTRODUCTION     ....................................................     2
I. THE PRIVACY PARADOX AND ITS IMPACT ..............                  6
* John Marshall Harlan Research Professor of Law, The George Washington University
Law School. For very helpful comments on this Article, I would like to thank Alessandro Ac-
quisti, Danielle Citron, Donald Dripps, Michael Froomkin, Woodrow Hartzog, Chris Hoofnagle,
and Paul Schwartz. Thanks to Jasmine Arooni and Shannon Sylvester for research assistance.
January 2021  Vol. 89  No. 1


What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing nearly 3,000 academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most