According to a report in BloombergBNA Electronic Commerce and Law  Report the American Law Institute is about to begin untangling the morass of conflicting state and federal privacy laws. The goal of the new project is to  write the “black letter”  principles of privacy law  which will ultimately be published as, “The Restatement Third, Information Privacy Principles.”

The ALI website describes the purpose of the project as follows:

“Information privacy law, concerning the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information, is currently an assortment of laws and regulations that differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. This new project aims to bring clarity to American information privacy law by restating and fleshing out a set of Fair Information Practice Principles that will bring greater order and consistency to privacy law and provide guidance to courts and legislatures.”

The Reporters  The American Law Institute has tapped two well-known privacy law specialists to lead the project Prof. Paul M. Schwartz, of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, Berkeley, Calif., and Prof. Daniel Solove of the George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C., have been designated the project “reporters.” Consultive Group currently includes 20 lawyers from the government, law firms and law schools. The full committee will include 35 to 40 lawyers who are experts in the field of information privacy.

According to the  BNA  story Schwartz described  the project as being “designed to bring clarity to a body of common law that has become a bewildering array of conflicting and overwhelming rules differing from state-to-state and the federal government.” Schwartz said that he and Solove will attempt to draft a volume that “is concrete enough to be explanatory but with abstract enough [principles] that we’d be good for ten to 15 years.”

What’s A Restatement? Restatements of the law are addressed to courts and others who apply existing law. They are intended to present clear formulations of common law and its development in statutes. They are meant to reflect the law as it presently stands or might plausibly be stated by a court. It will operate to produce agreement on the fundamental principles of the common law, give precision to use of legal terms, and make the law more uniform throughout the country.

The ALI also drafts Model Codes. Model or uniform codes or statutes and other statutory proposals are addressed mainly to legislatures, with a view toward legislative enactment. Statutory formulations assume the stance of prescribing the law as it shall be.Principles may be addressed to courts, legislatures, or governmental agencies. They assume the stance of expressing the law as it should be, which may or may not reflect the law as it is..

The Drafting Process. A restatement  is developed in a series of drafts prepared by the Reporter and reviewed by the project’s Advisers and Members Consultative Group, the Council, and the ALI membership. Preliminary Drafts and Council Drafts are available only to project participants and to the Council. Tentative Drafts, Discussion Drafts, and Proposed Final Drafts are publicly available. Once approved, Tentative Drafts and Proposed Final Drafts represent the most current statement of the American Law Institutes’s position on the subject and may be cited in opinions or briefs until the official text is published.

Additional background on the history of the restatements and the drafting process are detailed  in the Style Manual which is available on the ALI website.
The Style Manual: A Handbook for reporters and those who review their work..