The First Amendment Online: Search, Privacy & Personalization

The Chicago Lawyers Chapter and the Corporations, Securities and Antitrust, Intellectual Property and Telecommunications Practice Groups

Event Video

Listen & Download

The First Amendment Online: Search, Privacy & PersonalizationCongress is aflutter with online privacy bills, while arguments for regulating search engines, social networks and other online service providers are gaining traction with consumer protection and competition agencies. Yet policymakers seem to have given little attention to how interventions to protect privacy or competition will affect speech online. Our expert panel will discuss how the First Amendment applies to search engines and the personalization of online services, content and advertising based on user data—once abstract questions that are increasingly becoming central to our culture and economy.

Among other questions, the panel will consider what qualifies as protected speech, what level of judicial scrutiny applies, and how the government can address real harms consistent with the First Amendment. In particular, we will discuss the implications of the FTC’s recent “Do Not Track” proposal and the Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision in IMS Health v Sorrell (dealing with First Amendment protection of data used in targeted marketing that has both commercial as well as non-commercial uses).


  • Prof. Richard A. Epstein, New York University School of Law
  • Prof. James Grimmelman, New York Law School, Institute for Information Law and Policy
  • Prof. Jonathan Masur, University of Chicago Law School
  • Mr. Berin Szoka, TechFreedom
  • Moderator: Hon. Diane P. Wood, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • Introduction: Mr. Trevor K. Copeland, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione