Clifford Symposium focuses on data theft and corporate responsibility

The 22nd annual Clifford Symposium on Tort Law and Social Policy focused on the question of data theft and corporate responsibility. Seventeen scholars addressed a multitude of issues related to the collection of consumer information, including privacy, data breaches, identity theft, misuse of information, and the role of the courts. The two-day symposium took place at the DePaul Center in April.

Speakers on the “Real World Challenges” panel brought the focus from tort theory to real world events concerning privacy issues. Topics covered whether mandated disclosures are a good way to manage data risk or a misleading intervention that knocks consumers off of a product they might enjoy. Jane Bambauer of the University of Arizona proposed a model to show how companies might test whether privacy policies are “informational” or “ideological.” Michelle Goodwin of the University of California, Irvine, discussed debt collectors in the emergency room, specifically citing the 2012 case against Accretive Health in Minnesota. Neil Richards of Washington University presented on big data research and summed up the discussion saying, “People won’t use technology they don’t trust.”

Other symposium panels discussed tort law perspectives on data theft and privacy and security issues.

In 1994, Robert A. Clifford (JD '76) endowed a faculty chair in tort law and social policy at DePaul. In addition to providing support for faculty research and teaching, the endowment makes possible an annual symposium addressing a timely issue in the civil justice area. The purpose of the symposium is to bring the latest scholarship and advances in legal practice to lawyer and scholars who specialize in tort law, civil justice and related fields.Emeritus Professor Stephan Landsman is the current organizer and director of the symposium, which is underwritten by the Clifford Chair.​​​​