Document Type



Northwestern University Law Review




Information technologies are reducing the costs of credible signaling, just as they have reduced the costs of data mining and economic sorting. The burgeoning informational privacy field has ignored this evolution, leaving it unprepared to deal with the consequences of these new signaling mechanisms. In an economy with robust signaling, those with valuable credentials, clean medical records, and impressive credit scores will want to disclose those traits to receive preferential economic treatment. Others may then find that they must also disclose private information to avoid the negative inferences attached to staying silent. This unraveling effect creates new types of privacy harms, converting disclosure from a consensual to a more coerced decision. This Article argues that informational privacy law must focus on the economics of signaling and its unraveling of privacy.