Summer Reading: Resources for Internet and Privacy Law

“What should I read to prepare for law school?”

Answer: nothing. As cynical as it sounds, nothing will prepare you for law school. Don’t waste money on pre-law summer classes (scam) or buy your casebooks in advance (hella expensive and you don’t even know which ones you need yet). “Getting To Maybe,” the classic summer-before-law-school reading recommendation is OK, but looking back now, even that one wasn’t all too helpful because every professor has a different way of t̶o̶r̶t̶u̶r̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶s̶t̶u̶d̶e̶n̶t̶s̶ composing their final exams (S/O to my property professor for eliminating the essay entirely a week before finals…).

Anyways, instead of trying to do the impossible in preparing for law school, consider a different approach: prepare for being able to answer the question “Why am I going to law school.” What do you want to study these next three years and why? What do you want to do? Why are you here? Why now? Your answers to these question will do more for your first year experience than “Harvard Law Students’ Top 10 Outlining Techniques – Number 5 Will WRECK THE CURVE!”

Because I wasn’t content with just relaxing and resting my 0L summer, like I should have been, I channeled my pre-law-school-anxiety into learning as much as possible about the field of Internet law and Privacy so that when I started in the fall, I could at least answer the #1 question at every networking event and interview ever: “So what field are you thinking about practicing?” You don’t need to know *exactly* what it is you want to do day 1, but a general idea will put you further ahead than most. One feedback note in common from my interviewers at Twitter was that my passion for Section 230 and content moderation made me stand out from the rest of the “I plan to use my internship to figure it out” crowd. Plus, you’ll kill two birds with one stone – reading about your fields of interest will also get your mind in shape for the exorbitant amount of reading you’re about to do during your first year anyways.

Bottom line: you chose this path – walk it with purpose.

So with that, I’m providing my reading list below of Internet and Privacy law resources that I followed before, during, and, now, after my first year of law school, for anyone that wants to explore these fields while counting down to h̶e̶l̶l̶ fall:

Twitter

I haven’t started my job yet so this doesn’t count as shilling. Twitter is an excellent resource to engage with law professors, students, and scholars, alike. If you follow hashtags and people in your fields of interest you’ll create essentially an RSS feed filled with incredible threads, articles, debates, and the occasional MAGA Trump bots, for you to both learn from and engage with. Twitter is also an excellent way to start building your professional network in a less formal social media setting than LinkedIn. Plus, being able to argue your points or condense heavy articles into 280 characters is a brevity skill you’re going to need in law school.

SSRN

This is a great site to build a library of scholarly articles. Account creation is free and almost any law professor that is anyone is published here. I love SSRN because I can create a digital library of articles and essays I intend to read but don’t have time for during school. Here’s a couple authors and some choice articles from my library:

SCU Internet Law Prof. Eric Goldman:

Emojis and the Law

An Overview of The United States’ Section 230 Internet Immunity

Why Section 230 is Better Than the First Amendment

Stanford Law Prof. Mark Lemley:

Privacy, Property, and Publicity

You Might Be a Robot

Law, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality

The Twenty Six Words That Created The Internet by Jeff Kosseff

Difficulty: easy (introductory)

This is a newly released book about Section 230 and its origin story by Internet Law professor, Jeff Kosseff. I recommend this book for literally anyone that’s interested in the field (lawyers, non-lawyers, technologists, students, ANYONE). This is a quick and easy read that’s jammed pack with everything you need to know about Section 230. If you read anything this summer, consider reading this first.

(SCU colleagues, I just finished reading my copy if anyone would like to borrow it)

Technology & Marketing Law Blog

Difficulty: medium to advanced

Update-rate: regular/daily

I have to give a major shout-out to this blog because I often credit it for being a major factor in my switch from Computer Science to law. I started reading in undergrad as part of my research for a required Internet Law and Ethics course for my CS degree and I haven’t stopped reading since.

This blog is great for staying current with trending cases pertaining to all sorts of subject matter in Internet law (privacy, derivative liability, cybersecurity, intellectual property, e-commerce, advertising, etc.). Each post is usually a pretty quick read (minus the CCPA monstrosity which is still better than reading the CCPA) giving you the essentials you’ll need to carry informed conversation and have a firm understanding of the law and issues. In fact, this blog is considered mandatory reading for legal teams at most tech companies so if you’re a Silicon Valley intern/extern, it’s in your best interest to follow this one closely.

If you’re completely new to the field, you’ll find yourself Googling a lot on the side, but it’s an overall fast learning curve and the dry humor/deadpan sarcasm definitely keeps it interesting.

Techdirt

Difficulty: easy to medium

Update-rate: insane (MINUTE BY MINUTE)

This is a fun blog to follow and I honestly recommend it to anyone that’s new, advanced, interested in tech, interested in law, there’s truly something for everyone here. Even my husband, a software engineer with an aversion to all things legal studies, follows this blog. For 0L’s, this is a pretty good starting point.

Depending on the authors you follow (I favor Masnick and Gellis) you’ll get a variety of content type from case summaries to informed and heated rants about issues like “Break-Up-Big-Tech” or the latest on who Masnick or Techdirt pissed off now.

Because the update-rate is actually insane (keeping up with Techdirt is a full-time job) and the articles tend to be much lengthier in general, I prefer to use Techdirt as a “secondary source” when I need more information or context behind a hot case or topic (or to score points against trolls on the Internet lol).

internetcases

Difficulty: medium to advanced

Update-rate: irregular (monthly-bimonthly)

The blog name says it all – this is a blog dedicated to case summaries regarding everything Internet law. The Technology and Marketing Blog and internetcases do a pretty good job with not overlapping each other so often times you’ll find case coverage on one or the other.

From my reading over the past couple of years, I’ve found that internetcases leans heavily towards intellectual property while the T&M blog focuses on derivative liability and online speech issues. (But they both pretty much still cover everything).

Just like T&M, the author doesn’t hold your hand so if you’re new, prepare to learn a lot on the side.

Center for Internet and Society (Stanford)

Difficulty: medium

Update-rate: semi-regular (daily/weekly)

This is another excellent blog for rounding out your understanding of the issues in Internet law. If you’re interested in deep-diving content moderation issues like how social media companies should deal with extremist content, this is a good place to start.

From my reading this year, I’ve found the focus to primarily be content moderation and DMCA notice-and-takedown (both incredibly relevant and important topics in the field right now).

The IAPP Dashboard

Difficulty: easy-advanced

Update-rate: regular/daily

This blog is a primary source for all things trending in privacy law. If you need the latest on a state privacy bill, or the newest GDPR compliance tool, or what hot startup is looking to build out a new and improved privacy team – start here.

Admittedly this one can be hit or miss at times depending on your own personal beliefs about privacy so keep that in mind with some of the more polarized writers. Otherwise, if you use it to simply stay informed about privacy issues, you’ll be off to a good start in this field. Because privacy is still so new, the IAPP is the go-to source for now.

The above blogs usually keep me busy but here are some highly honorable mentions for more reading:

Rebecca Tushnet’s 43 (B)log (advertising/I.P.)

All About Advertising Law

Search Engine Watch(keyword advertising and SEO)

Santa Clara Law Digital Commons (collection of student/faculty papers, journals, etc.)

Markkula Center For Applied Ethics (Internet Ethics: Views from Silicon Valley)

Golden Data: A Legal Blog About Data Laws (privacy)

Hunton Privacy & Information Security Law Blog

DLA Piper Privacy Matters Blog

InhouseBlog

Internet Law Center Newsletter

Gizmodo, Wired, The Verge, Ars Technica, Slashdot (various tech and tech law news sites)

Enjoy and happy reading. Remember to go outside too every once in a while!

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