University of Chicago Law Review

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Legal and policy debates about privacy revolve around conflicts between pri-vacy and other goods. But privacy also conflicts with itself. Whenever securing privacy on one margin compromises privacy on another margin, a privacy-privacy tradeoff arises. This Essay introduces the phenomenon of privacy-privacy tradeoffs, with par-ticular attention to their role in NSA surveillance. After explaining why these tradeoffs are pervasive in modern society and developing a typology, the Essay shows that many of the arguments made by the NSA’s defenders appeal not only to a national-security need but also to a privacy-privacy tradeoff. An appreciation of these tradeoffs, the Essay contends, illuminates the structure and the stakes of de-bates over surveillance law specifically and privacy policy generally.

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