I spy with my little eye....
I have a website. 

On that website is information about me, my compositions, my contact information, and a bio. 

It also includes things of interest to me and a weblog which presumably you are now reading. 

However, writing a blog and owning a website does not make one a public figure, like, say, a Supreme Court Justice.

In his remarks at a January conference organized by the Institute of American and Talmudic Law, Justice Antonin Scalia's views on the privacy of personal information online are summed by this quote:

"Every single datum about my life is private? That's silly.”

Fordham University law professor Joel Reidenberg handed his class an assignment to collect public information on Justice Antonin Scalia. Once notified of the assignment and its results, Scalia didn't much like being the target of such an "investigation" even though everything collected was public information and he was on the record saying that he had no problem with this sort of thing as a privacy issue. 

In response to this having a dossier collected on him, Scalia said:

“It is not a rare phenomenon that what is legal may also be quite irresponsible. That appears in the First Amendment context all the time. What can be said often should not be said. Prof. Reidenberg's exercise is an example of perfectly legal, abominably poor judgment. Since he was not teaching a course in judgment, I presume he felt no responsibility to display any.”

While I think that Scalia is being incredibly hypocritical based on his previous statements, I have to agree with him in principle -- that although “legal,” collecting this sort of information on an individual (particularly if that person is a private individual) by anyone other than law enforcement, is 
rather disgusting.

There are several websites linking to this story:




I was particularly interested in one comment. One person (from the third link above) had an interesting and quite personal take on this:

"Because I am female, I have to be continually wary of the possibility of stalking, harrassment, and threats online, and that they might spill over into airspace. Because I am female, I cannot move around in airspace without having to take precautions to ensure my physical safety, precautions which you (as a presumed young male) can readily ignore. Because I am female, when I was young and single I had to be wary of being "too nice" to strange men, lest they take my niceness as an invitation to follow or harrass me. I've received obscene phone calls, I've been followed by strangers, there've been places I couldn't walk without men yelling what they probably thought of as "come-ons" but which were in fact threats of rape. And this has been in a very hum-drum life with no history of assault or direct trauma -- this is just what it's like to be a woman and live to as an adult for a couple decades.

"So from my experience as a woman, if I learned that someone I didn't know had collected such a dossier about me, I would assume that it was to stalk me. Indeed, I would consider compiling such a dossier to be implied stalking -- it's not over the line *per se*, but it's the necessary preliminary. It speaks of obsession, and obsession is dangerous -- especially when you don't have SCOTUS-level professional security. (emphasis mine)

"This is one reason Scalia was a good "target" for this particular exercise, as I said: because he has pro security, the danger should one of those innocent, googling law students become obsessed with him is reduced. But if the exercise had involved, say, a 20-year-old woman, or one of the students' ex-boyfriends, I think you can see that Joel would be in deep, deep trouble."

I tend to agree. It may be “legal,” but collecting a dossier on your neighbor is pretty f***ing creepy. 


Happy Star Wars Day!!!
Monday, May 4, 2009