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Appeals Court Hears Arguments in Freedom of Speech, Privacy Case

PRIVACY LAW—U.S.

March 25, 2010

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday in the Virginia attorney general's appeal of a 2009 decision allowing a Hanover County woman to publish state officials' Social Security numbers on her Web site. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is representing Betty "BJ" Ostergren, contends the numbers are used for "shock value" to raise awareness of privacy concerns, and therefore constitute free speech. Appearing for the attorney general's office, E. Duncan Getchell Jr. said Ostergren's posting of the information invites criminal conduct, while Rebecca K. Glenberg of the ACLU of Virginia said the solution is for the state government to redact the information in question from its public Web sites.
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