Albert Gidari is the Consulting Director of Privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. He was a partner for over 20 years at Perkins Coie LLP, achieving a top-ranking in privacy law by Chambers, before retiring to consult with CIS on its privacy program. He negotiated the first-ever "privacy by design" consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission on behalf of Google, which required the establishment of a comprehensive privacy program including third party compliance audits. Mr. Gidari is a recognized expert on electronic surveillance law; and, long an advocate for greater transparency in government demands for user data, he brought the first public lawsuit before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, seeking the right of providers to disclose the volume of national security demands received. Mr. Gidari earned an LLM from University of Washington School of Law, his law degree from George Mason University School of Law, and his undergraduate degree from Tulane University.
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TechCrunch asked a panel of eight privacy experts: “Has anything fundamentally changed around privacy in tech in 2019? What is the state of privacy and has the outlook changed?” Here's what I said in response.
So it seems that the Microsoft Ireland case at the Supreme Court will end with a whimper. Both the Department of Justice and Microsoft agree that the case is moot and should be dismissed due to the passage of the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act or “CLOUD Act.” DoJ told the Court that it has procured a warrant under new section 2713 of the Stored Communications Act.
The Law, Borders, and Speech conference at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society asked the important question: Which countries’ laws and values will govern Internet users’ online behavior, including their free expression rights? The conference used the landmark article written in 1996 by David G. Post and David R. Johnson to examine whether twenty years on their conclusions still held true. Post and Johnson had concluded that “[t]he rise of the global computer network is destroying the link between geographical location and: (1) the power of local governments to assert control over online behavior; (2) the effects of online behavior on individuals or things; (3) the legitimacy of the efforts of a local sovereign to enforce rules applicable to global phenomena; and (4) the ability of physical location to give notice of which sets of rules apply.” They proposed that national law must be reconciled with self-regulatory processes emerging from the network itself.
An enormous amount of attention has been paid to the oral argument before the Supreme Court in Carpenter v. United States. The transcript provides tantalizing tea leaves as to whether the Court will find a protectable right to privacy in a cell phone subscriber’s location and many pundits seem to think the day went to Carpenter while I haven’t heard anyone touting a government homerun.
Last month, the Supreme Court of California may have decided the future of the public's access to "smart city" data without knowing it. In ACLU v Los Angeles Police Department, the court accepted that raw data collected by Los Angeles police and sheriff departments, using automated licence plate readers (ALPRs), constituted a public record subject to disclosure under California's Public Records Act (CPRA) absent an exemption. The court held that the catch-all disclosure exemption in the CPRA applied, which requires balancing the public interest in preventing disclosure where certain harms can be identified against the public interest served by disclosure such as furthering the public's understanding of the privacy risks of the ALPR program.
Consulting Director of Privacy at the Stanford Law Center for Internet and Society, Albert Gidari, comments on the landmark U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on location tracking in Carpenter v. United States:
"“This decision opens up the landscape for cellular providers to become bigger advertising platforms in the future based on knowing whom you text and scanning the content of your messages,” says Albert Gidari, director of privacy for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School."
"Or neighbors could band together and sell the data, said Albert Gidari, consulting director of privacy at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. Minute information on comings and goings would allow businesses “to look at a whole community through the lens of these devices,” he said."
"Albert Gidari, consulting director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, said under current regulations Google had little option but to comply with Benfica’s subpoena. Internet companies get hundreds of thousands of similar requests, said Gidari, who spent 20 years representing some of the world’s biggest technology companies including Google. “It isn’t scalable to know what’s behind each case,” he said.
Google already goes “one step beyond” what it is required to do by giving notice of the subpoena to users, he added."
"“The lack of potential for harm certainly is a factor in a decision not to disclose,” said Albert Gidari, the consulting director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, in an email."
"And it is this that so frustrates law enforcement officials. "If the UK has complaints, it is with the US Department of Justice for failing to adequately staff and promptly process the requests," says Albert Gidari, the director of privacy at the Stanford Law School. In short: it isn't completely the fault of tech companies – Apple's encryption fight with the FBI in 2016 showed they are willing in some cases to stand up for the privacy rights of users."
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Smart cities, smart buildings, and sensors everywhere are creating a web of surveillance and data collection that threaten privacy on a massive scale. It's not too late to change the dynamic. We just have to be smart about it.
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Join Troy Sauro, Senior Privacy Counsel, Google Inc., for a discussion about his journey from being a litigation attorney in a big law firm to becoming a Google privacy counsel. Sponsored by the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. CIS Director of Privacy Albert Gidari will moderate the discussion.