Tulane Home Tulane Home

Gajda’s book on privacy goes very public, draws attention in courts and at Google

October 01, 2022 4:15 PM
Alina Hernandez ahernandez4@tulane.edu



Tulane Law Professor Amy Gajda's latest book, “Seek and Hide: The Tangled History of the Right to Privacy, tracing the origins and evolution of legal protection for privacy in the US, has put her in the center of some of the country’s most contentious unfolding debates about the future of data and information privacy.

In recent months, she has not only done numerous interviews, podcasts and appearances, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit selected Gajda’s book as the inaugural common read for the court’s new “One Court, One Book” project, a summer-long, circuit-wide book forum.

Weeks later, she was invited by Google executives to deliver a keynote address at an internal corporate privacy summit at the company’s Silicon Valley campus and tothousands of other so-called Googlers around the world who work on privacy, safety, security and counter-abuse technology. 

In late October 2022, she was invited to deliver a campus-wide lecture on the future of privacy rights at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

“It’s been gratifying and exciting to see how much interest there is out there, not only about the book itself but also about privacy as a right," said Gajda. "Talking with people from all walks of life about their interests in privacy has been eye-opening and a strong motivator for my next book.”

In the spring, Gajda gave the keynote at the 2022 Global Privacy Summit of the International Association of Privacy Professionals in Washington, D.C., alongside best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell and Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission. She was featured in an interview with C-Span Co-CEO Susan Swain, who covered everything from the U.S. Supreme Court's Dobbs' draft ruling leak to Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter.

The Library of the U.S. Courts of the Seventh Circuit chose her book, which reaches back to the Founders to show that American law has in fact always provided protection against the invasion of privacy, to launch the circuit’s common-reading program mirroring the Chicago Library’s “One Book, One Chicago” program. 

Gajda gave a talk about the book to judges, clerks, and other staff participating in the program at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse in Chicago and via Zoom throughout the rest of the circuit.

"Seek and Hide" was released in April and was quickly named by The New York Times as one of the most anticipated non-fiction books of the season; a review in The Times called it "wry and fascinating" and Gajda "an insightful guide to a rich and textured history that gets easily caricatured, especially when a culture war is raging."

Since then, it has drawn significant interest and praise nationally, with such publications as The Atlantic, Fortune and The New Yorker reviewing it or using it as the foundation of for stories on current privacy rights issues.

Gajda is one of the nation’s leading scholars on information and data privacy, including the clash between privacy and press rights. In the book, she covers the notable cases of history—one involving many of the Founders who took separate but aligning sides on the press-privacy divide—as well as those that are important but barely caught notice, including the time Grover Cleveland kept a journalist in jail for reporting #MeToo truth. She follows the rise of the internet, the impact of some modern media willing to publish even the most intimate details of a person’s life, and mounting challenges to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the federal law that facilitated it all by granting partial immunity to websites for hurtful disclosures published online.

She also is one of Tulane Law’s most beloved professors, with students routinely naming her as having had an impact on their careers and lives. In 2020, she was the recipient of the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, the university’s highest honor for professional and graduate teaching, nominated by students and alumni, and in 2015 was awarded the law school’s highest teaching honor, the Felix Frankfurter Award for Distinguished Teaching.