CFP Meets in Washington

A new paradigm for network privacy developing

2 min read

The 19th annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference, underway in Washington, is partially viewable thanks to C-Span. This video includes opening keynote and the first two panels (click on the Flash icon upper right.)

Opening remarks are by law professor Susan Crawford, Special Assistant to the President for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, with response and discussion by Declan McCullagh, CNET News Caroline Fredrickson, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office Peter Swire, Ohio State University, Center for American Progress; former Chief Counselor for Privacy for US Government Moderator: Eric Lichtblau, New York Times

The next panel covers The Future of Security vs. Privacy, featuring Bruce Schneier, CSTO, BT Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, CATO Institute Stewart Baker, former Assistant Secretary for Policy, DHS and former General Counsel, NSA Valerie Caproni, General Counsel, FBI Moderator: Ryan Singel,

The White House has officially muzzled Crawford, allowing her to deliver prepared remarks but not to answer questions or engage in discussion, no doubt due to her unfortunate tendency to describe the Internet as a "self-organizing network" that's nonetheless stupid about content and services. Consequently, the keynote is rather dull, focusing on the timeline for Open Government proposals and the usual platitudes about the power of the Blackberry and the wonder of Twitter.

McCullagh engages in a small bit of mild criticism of the government's failure to live up to its transparency promises, generally conveying the notion that we're coming to the end of the transition honeymoon period so things need to improve or the criticism will get a lot louder.

By far the most engaging part of the while video is Prof. Peter Swire's discussion of old and new privacy models. I alluded to this in my Congressional testimony on privacy back in April, but Swire's formulation is a lot more crisp. Traditionally, privacy advocates argued for data minimization, which is to say restrictions on the amount of data that can be collected by government and industry about us. This approach isn't really satisfactory as it's simply meant to protect personal information from spilling into the hands of malicious actors. The new paradigm comes from the Social Networks and the Web 2.0 crowd who use them. These folks see personal data as a form of empowerment, and simply want control over things like retention and mining. Swire's right, of course, that the Web 2.0 generation places very little emphasis on privacy until they go looking for jobs and have to face recruiters who've seen drunken pictures on their Facebook pages. That's when things start to get interesting.

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