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:
"“We can’t begin to fathom how fast we’re moving to a ‘Star Trek’ world,” said Albert Gidari, consulting director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
The cameras themselves aren’t necessarily a violation of privacy, said Gidari, the Stanford privacy expert. They are collecting images of people traveling in public, where people implicitly give consent to being seen and photographed, he said.
"“This is such a heavy-handed thing to do; it’s remarkable they care that little for their customers that they’d turn them into unwitting agents of surveillance,” Stanford privacy professor Albert Gidari said."
"“You’re confused into thinking these are there to inform users, as opposed to protect companies,” said Albert Gidari, the consulting director of privacy at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.
According to Jen King, the director of consumer privacy at the Center for Internet and Society, this doesn’t mean we should throw out privacy policies entirely — we just need a fresh start.
"“It is very hard to participate in civil life and be anonymous,” Albert Gidari, the privacy director of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, said on Wednesday. “You can’t buy a car in cash and avoid disclosing who you are because now car dealers are financial institutions,” Mr. Gidari said, adding that it was nearly impossible to transfer money in and out of the United States without disclosing who you are to the government.
"“People say things online and think they’re largely hidden from discovery,” said Albert Gidari, consulting director of privacy at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. But in many cases those individuals can be identified, he said.
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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.
The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) is a public interest technology law and policy program at Stanford Law School and a part of Law, Science and Technology Program at Stanford Law School.
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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.