REVISION: Data Institutionalism: A Reply to Andrew Woods

By Zachary D. Clopton

In Against Data Exceptionalism, Andrew K. Woods explores “one of the greatest societal and technological shifts in recent years,” which manifests in the “same old” questions about government power. The global cloud is an important feature of modern technological life that has significant consequences for individual privacy, law enforcement, and governance. Yet, as Woods suggests, the legal challenges presented by the cloud have analogies in age-old puzzles of public and private international law. Identifying these connections is a conceptual advance, and this contribution should not be understated. But, to my mind, the most telling statement in Woods’s excellent article comes early on: “Showing that the jurisdictional challenges presented by the global cloud are not conceptually novel does not resolve those problems.” Data may not be exceptional, and the legal puzzles posed by data sound in existing notions of jurisdiction and conflict of laws. The problem, however, is that existing ...

Zachary D. Clopton Assistant Professor of Law
Photo of Zachary Clopton

Contact Information

Cornell Law School
110 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

Phone: (607) 254-6259
Fax: (607) 255-7193


Jamie Weber
Cornell Law School
213 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901

Professional Biography

Zachary D. Clopton is an Assistant Professor of Law at Cornell Law School. His research and teaching interests include civil procedure, complex litigation, international business transactions and litigation, and national security law.

Clopton clerked for the Honorable Diane P. Wood of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. He served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago and he worked in the national security group at Wilmer Hale in Washington, D.C. He also served as a Public Law Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School before joining Cornell Law School.

His recent scholarship has appeared or is forthcoming in the Stanford Law Review, NYU Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, California Law Review, and Cornell Law Review, among others.

Clopton earned a BA from Yale University, an MPhil in International Relations from Cambridge University, where he was a Gates Foundation Scholar, and a JD from Harvard Law School.


B.A., Yale University, 2003
M.Phil, Cambridge University, 2004
J.D., Harvard Law School, 2007