Interesting Fourth Circuit Free Speech vs. Information Privacy Case

It’s Ostergren v. Cuccinelli (4th Cir. July 26). I’m on a trip with my son and can’t blog much this week, and the case is complex enough that I can’t quickly summarize it, though the short answer is that the speaker won. But if you’re interested in free speech vs. information privacy questions, you should check it out. Here’s the opening paragraph:

This appeal arises from a First Amendment challenge to Virginia’s Personal Information Privacy Act, Va. Code §§ 59.1-442 to -444. Section 59.1-443.2 prohibits “[i]ntentionally communicat[ing] another individual’s social security number to the general public.” The district court found this section unconstitutional as applied to an advocacy website that criticized Virginia’s release of private information and showed publicly available Virginia land records containing unredacted Social Security numbers (“SSNs”). Later, the court entered a permanent injunction barring Virginia from punishing the republication of “publicly obtainable documents containing unredacted SSNs of Virginia legislators, Virginia Executive Officers or Clerks of Court as part as [sic] an effort to reform Virginia law and practice respecting the publication of SSNs online.” Both decisions are challenged on appeal. For the reasons that follow, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

There’s a Washington Post article summarizing the case.