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Freakonomics Apprentice Privacy

The ending of this season’s The Apprentice (with Donald Trump) has everybody talking. Rebecca Jarvis and Randal Pinkett were the finalists, both of whom Trump thought were outstanding stars. He hired Randal and later asked Randal whether he should also hire Rebecca. Randal said “no” because “there can be only one Apprentice” and the show is called “the Apprentice, not the Apprenti [sic].” Ann Althouse has more details and extensive commentary here and here.

The buzz about The Apprentice finale has also reached the Freakonomics blog, one that I greatly enjoy. I was surprised when I read a post by Steven Levitt about Rebecca:

More important, I know a celebrity! Rebecca Jarvis, the runner-up, is my former student at University of Chicago. If I remember correctly, she got an A.

Far stranger than her being my student is that we also went to the same high school in the Twin Cities.

I’ll have to dig out her old exam and get her to autograph it for me.

My surprise was at the fact that he just revealed a student’s grade on the Internet. There is likely no actionable privacy law claim for such a disclosure (perhaps breach of confidentiality), and it would be odd for a student to sue over the disclosure that she got an A in a class and quite difficult to establish damages. Nevertheless, it strikes me as a lapse in judgment to reveal a student’s grade — even a good grade — over the Internet without first obtaining that student’s consent. Perhaps Levitt did obtain Rebecca’s consent, but as I read the post, it doesn’t seem likely he did. While Levitt’s infraction isn’t one I’m too worked up about, it does demonstrate the importance of having some self-restraint in blogging. It’s easy for all of us to dash off a post in haste without thinking of the implications.

Speaking of student grades, I’ve got a pile of exams I should be getting to . . .

Originally Posted at Concurring Opinions

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This post was authored by Professor Daniel J. Solove, who through TeachPrivacy develops computer-based privacy training, data security training, HIPAA training, and many other forms of awareness training on privacy and security topics. Professor Solove also posts at his blog at LinkedIn. His blog has more than 1 million followers.

Professor Solove is the organizer, along with Paul Schwartz, of the Privacy + Security Forum and International Privacy + Security Forum, annual events designed for seasoned professionals.

If you are interested in privacy and data security issues, there are many great ways Professor Solove can help you stay informed:
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