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Chapter 2. Defining Privacy: Social and ... > Privacy Violation Consequences

Privacy Violation Consequences

The consequences for violating privacy policies are minimal. As mentioned in the Amazon case, no punishment was levied against Amazon. In most cases, self-regulation by the industry is the only thing that even makes companies use a privacy policy. So breaking it carries no retribution other than public outcry. Although, public advocates have forced companies and the government to take privacy policies seriously and will continue to do so in the future. Laws such as COPPA will carry penalties for non-compliance, but these laws do not strictly enforce an actual privacy policy.

The U.S. has a history of punishing companies for blatant violations of privacy rights. In the case of Boling vs. Tennessee State Bank (1994), a bank was liable to borrowers for $14,825 in compensatory damages for disclosing borrowers' personal information and business plans to a bank president who had a conflicting interest. Fraudulent misrepresentation requires either actual knowledge or at least the belief that the representation is false. Liability can also be attached to the case for negligent misrepresentation of services or intent. Whoever makes a false statement in the course of his business, profession, employment, or any transaction can be held liable “if he fails to exercise reasonable care or competence in obtaining or communicating the information.” This case was a use of information, not a collection of information judgment.


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