Slate’s If Then podcast on Google Plus, Facebook Portal, and the history of U.S. privacy law.

Is Privacy a Right or a Privilege? A Tech Lawyer Explains.

Is Privacy a Right or a Privilege? A Tech Lawyer Explains.

Decoding the Logic of Silicon Valley
Oct. 10 2018 5:18 PM

Is Privacy a Right?

Tech lawyer Tiffany C. Li explains how privacy law has evolved in the digital age—and how it hasn’t.

If Then has moved! Find new episodes here.

US Constitution and security camera.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Dorian Hurst on Unsplash and National Archives and Records Administration.

Listen to If Then by clicking the arrow on the audio player below, or get the show via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.

On this week’s If Then, Will Oremus and April Glaser discuss the latest data spill in Silicon Valley. It’s Google this time. And it’s time to talk gadgets again. This week Facebook announced its second foray into the hardware space with the Portal and Portal Plus—essentially a smart display for making video calls, equipped with an A.I. camera and Amazon Alexa. Meanwhile, Google launched a new smart display called the Google Home Hub, a new tablet that shares a name with the hosts’ employer, and a new phone that’s interesting for both its camera and the A.I. built in.


The hosts are also joined by tech attorney and privacy expert Tiffany C. Li. She teaches a course at Yale about the changing rights to privacy throughout history. They talk to her about what privacy rights we really have, whose interests are served by U.S. privacy law, and the difference between government and corporate surveillance.

19:16 - Interview with Tiffany Li
34:45 - Don’t Close My Tabs

Stories discussed on the show:


Don’t Close My Tabs:


Podcast production by Max Jacobs

If Then plugs:

You can get updates about what’s coming up next by following us on Twitter @ifthenpod. You can follow Will @WillOremus and April @Aprilaser. If you have a question or comment, you can email us at

If Then is presented by Slate and Future Tense, a collaboration among Arizona State University, New America, and Slate. Future Tense explores the ways emerging technologies affect society, policy, and culture. To read more, follow us on Twitter and sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Listen to If Then via Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or Google Play.