“Why Privacy Matters” With Professor Neil Richards
30 November 2021 at 12:30pm EST via Zoom
Please join us as Professor Jonathon Penney speaks with Professor Neil Richards (Washington U. Law) about his new book “Why Privacy Matters” — a much-needed corrective on what privacy is, why it matters, and how we can protect in an age when so many believe that the concept is dead.
Everywhere we look, companies and governments are spying on us–seeking information about us and everyone we know. Ad networks monitor our web-surfing to send us “more relevant” ads. The NSA screens our communications for signs of radicalism. Schools track students’ emails to stop school shootings. Cameras guard every street corner and traffic light, and drones fly in our skies. Databases of human information are assembled for purposes of “training” artificial intelligence programs designed to predict everything from traffic patterns to the location of undocumented migrants. We’re even tracking ourselves, using personal electronics like Apple watches, Fitbits, and other gadgets that have made the “quantified self” a realistic possibility. As Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg once put it, “the Age of Privacy is over.” But Zuckerberg and others who say “privacy is dead” are wrong. In Why Privacy Matters, Neil Richards explains that privacy isn’t dead, but rather up for grabs.
Richards shows how the fight for privacy is a fight for power that will determine what our future will look like, and whether it will remain fair and free. If we want to build a digital society that is consistent with our hard-won commitments to political freedom, individuality, and human flourishing, then we must make a meaningful commitment to privacy. Privacy matters because good privacy rules can promote the essential human values of identity, power, freedom, and trust. If we want to preserve our commitments to these precious yet fragile values, we will need privacy rules. Richards explains why privacy remains so important and offers strategies that can help us protect it from the forces that are working to undermine it. Pithy and forceful, this is essential reading for anyone interested in a topic that sits at the center of so many current problems.
Neil Richards (he/him) is one of the world’s leading experts in privacy law, information law, and freedom of expression. He writes, teaches, and lectures about the regulation of the technologies powered by human information that are revolutionizing our society. Professor Richards holds the Koch Distinguished Professorship at Washington University School of Law, where he co-directs the Cordell Institute for Policy in Medicine & Law. He is also an affiliate scholar with the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and the Yale Information Society Project, a Fellow at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and a consultant and expert in privacy cases. Professor Richards serves on the board of the Future of Privacy Forum and is a member of the American Law Institute. Professor Richards graduated in 1997 with graduate degrees in law and history from the University of Virginia, and served as a law clerk to both William H. Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States and Paul V. Niemeyer, United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Professor Richards is the author of Intellectual Privacy (Oxford Press 2015). His many scholarly and popular writings on privacy and civil liberties have appeared in wide a variety of media, from the Harvard Law Review and the Yale Law Journal to The Guardian, WIRED, and Slate. His next book, Why Privacy Matters, will be published by Oxford Press in 2021.
Professor Richards regularly speaks about privacy, big data, technology, and civil liberties throughout the world, and also appears frequently in the media. At Washington University, he teaches courses on privacy, technology, free speech, and constitutional law, and is a past winner of the Washington University School of Law’s Professor of the Year award. He was born in England, educated in the United States, and lives with his family in St. Louis. He is an avid cyclist and a lifelong supporter of Liverpool Football Club.
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