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CPSR Newsletter Vol 18, No 4
The CPSR Newsletter
Volume 18, Number 4 Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Fall 2000

Drawing the Blinds: Reconstructing Privacy in the Information Age by Coralee Whitcomb

This year's Annual Meeting, Drawing the Blinds, Reconstructing Privacy in the Information Age, was held on one of the most beautiful fall weekends ever with the gorgeous University of Pennsylvania as a backdrop. The glorious outside setting was totally apropos for the excellent discussion on privacy that went on inside.

The morning of the conference stumbled to a start when our keynote, Dave Farber, was unable to attend due to a family emergency. Fortunately, a portion of the first panel was game to begin early and, as they spoke, the remaining panelists appeared and jumped right in. With the luxury of an extra hour and an excellent set of speakers, Beth Givens, Austin Hill, Steven Lucas, Ray Everett Church, Dave Banisar, and an equally excellent audience, the morning was filled with unhurried give and take. The substance of the day's discussions will be thoroughly reported in the next newsletter.

After lunch we heard an interesting talk on the legal underpinnings of privacy from Jeff Rosen, author of The Unwanted Gaze which, again, triggered a lively discussion. Jeff was followed by Nathaniel Borenstein, Peter Neumann, Ashok Khosla, David Marvit, and Nick Nicholas discussing the merits of technology solutions and finding consensus that technology is not the entire solution. The program ended with Simson Garfinkel, Paul Schwartz, and Andrew Shen discussing the challenges we face today if the situation is to change.

I don't know exactly what is responsible for the magic of the day. The tone was very informal and unhurried. The level of discussion went well beyond the overview level commonly found at conferences and frequently found in privacy discussions. There was a real diversity of opinion among the panelists and the members of the audience. I'm sorry we don't have a verbatim transcript of the program, because I believe its substance was uniquely sophisticated and would have a great deal of value during the inevitable privacy policies to be discussed in the upcoming legislative session.

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