Aug 012012
 
 August 1, 2012  Laws

From Legal Times:

A panel of lawyers urged Congress Tuesday to adopt legislation that would undo the Supreme Court’s decision in Federal Aviation Administration v. Cooper, which found in March that someone whose medical information was shared by government agencies could not recover emotional damages.

In a wide-ranging discussion on the status of the federal government’s privacy laws before a Senate subcommittee, the law professor who helped pioneer the government’s role in protecting the private information of Americans in the digital age said the Supreme Court interpretation of the Privacy Act was “more narrow than intended.”

“I think emotional harms that are proven to a judge are real harms here, and we should put that back in the law,” said Peter Swire, a law professor at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and the former chief counselor for privacy in the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton.

Chris Calabrese, a legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the court’s decision on the Privacy Act weakened the remedies for a breach. “This decision is particularly harmful because the damage from privacy disclosures is often embarrassment, anxiety and emotional distress, precisely what the court forecloses,” Calabrese said.

Read more on Daily Report Online.

Not surprisingly, I agree with the panel, and think Justice Sotomayor got it exactly right in her dissent. But given the ruling, it’s up to Congress to make it clear that emotional harm constitutes a compensable injury under the law.

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