What Is The Appropriate Punishment For British Airways For Its Data Breach?

From: P
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2019 1:22 PM
To: Walter Block
Subject: Appropriate Punishment and Proportionality in British Airways data breach

Dear Prof. Block,

Recently, British Airways has faced a fine amounting to around 280 million dollars (see [1]) for having had inadequate data protection measures in place, resulting in a hack and ’theft’ of data back in 2018. What does libertarian theory say about cases like these, where no property has been stolen, and where no physical harm has been committed against anyone? Has British Airways really committed a crime? What would a proportionate punishment be if that’s the case? Of course, the culpability of the hackers is another question, but not the one I’m curious about here. Related, but not exactly the same, what would a proportionate punishment be for Facebook’s and/or Cambridge Analytica’s behavior in the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal be (see [2]))? My intuition tells me that punishment will happen ’through the market’ so to speak. Customers discovering what has happened in both cases can act in a sort of punishing fashion, i.e., by not buying or using the respective companies’ services and products. But many feel that this is not punishment enough. Best regards, P

[1]: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2208964-british-airways-faces-largest-ever-data-breach-fine-for-2018-hack/

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook–Cambridge_Analytica_data_scandal

From: Walter Block <wblock@loyno.edu>
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2019 4:18 PM
To: P

Subject: RE: Appropriate Punishment and Proportionality in British Airways data breach

Dear Patrick:

What should be the punishment for me if I leave my door unlocked, and something gets stolen from me? None, because I have not violated the NAP. Rather, the criminal who enters my home or my car should be punished. Whoever is fining BA should be punished. I assume this is some government agency.

Best regards,

Walter

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8:45 pm on August 24, 2019