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CPSR's 2004 Norbert Wiener Award to Barry Steinhardt

Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Program on Technology and Liberty

For immediate release

September 16, 2004

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility honors Barry Steinhardt, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Program on Technology and Liberty, with its 2004 Norbert Wiener Award.

CPSR's Vice President, Stuart Shapiro, notes that "Barry has been on the front line of issues revolving around information technology and civil liberties since before they were front page news. Not only has he consistently been one of those leading the fight against the irresponsible use and control of information technology, he has done so on an amazing array of issues-including video surveillance, encryption, Internet censorship, biometrics, and data mining-and in the court of public opinion as well as in courts of law."

When notified, Barry Steinhardt's reaction was "I am honored to receive the award and to be in such distinguished company."

Barry Steinhardt served as Associate Director of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1992 until 2002, when he became its inaugural Director of the Program on Technology and Liberty. He has helped lead a variety of activities aimed at shedding light on relevant issues, combating flawed rules and legislation, and empowering individual activism. It was requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act, for example, that revealed the deficiencies of facial recognition systems being tested for law enforcement purposes. Court action sought to limit efforts under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to build surveillance capabilities into America's communications infrastructure. In the wake of revelations that the airline JetBlue had turned vast amounts of passenger information over to the U.S. government, a Web form was developed to enable the public to automatically file requests under the Privacy Act to see what personal information the government had obtained.

Mr. Steinhardt has been a prominent advocate for privacy and other civil liberties in the face of technologically-oriented threats. In addition to testifying before the U.S. Congress, he has addressed audiences ranging from the National Conference of State Legislatures to the UNESCO Conference on Intellectual Property. As the latter suggests, his activism has not been confined to the U.S. He was a co-founder of the Global Internet Liberty Campaign-the world's first international coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) concerned with the privacy and free speech rights of Internet users-and a member of the US delegation to the G-8 Government and Private Sector Tokyo Conference on Cyber Crime. His advocacy also extends to the media. His essays have appeared in such diverse publications as USA Today, CIO magazine, and the journal of the Davos World Economic Forum and he has appeared on a variety of news and talk shows on major television networks.

For more information on Barry Steinhardt and his work, see

In honoring Steinhardt, CPSR celebrates 23 years of advocacy by its members to address social issues in computing. CPSR's mission is to share the knowledge of technology professionals to assist society in understanding the power, promise, and limitations of that technology. The Norbert Wiener Award was established in 1987 by CPSR in memory of the originator of the field of cybernetics, Norbert Wiener (1894-1964), whose pioneering work was one of the pillars on which modern computing technology was created. Wiener was among the first to examine the social and political consequences of computing technology. He devoted much of his energy to writing articles and books that would make the technology understandable to a wide audience. His books, The Human Use of Human Beings and God and Golem, Inc., were among the earliest works that opened a public discussion of computers and what they could do.

CPSR- an international public-interest alliance of computer scientists and others interested in the impact of information technology on society. CPSR attempts to direct public attention to difficult choices concerning the applications of computing and how those choices affect society. CPSR was founded in 1981 by computer professionals in Silicon Valley concerned about the use of computers in nuclear weapons systems. CPSR has working groups and chapters throughout the world and is based in Palo Alto, California.

The Norbert Wiener Award will be presented at the conclusion of CPSR's 2004 annual conference,"Making the Grade?: A Report Card on US Policies for the Information Society", October 16, 2004 in Washington, DC. A reception follows from 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. at Mr. Smith's of Georgetown, 3104 M Street NW Street. The public is welcome. Please pre-register.

Past Wiener Award Winners

CPSR's Norbert Wiener Award for Social and Professional Responsibility

Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
Contact: Susan Evoy
Telephone: 650-322-3778
E-Mail: cpsr(a)

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Last modified December 07, 2004 12:24 PM

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