Georgetown Law Launches New Center on Privacy and Technology

July 21, 2014 —

Georgetown University Law Center Dean William M. Treanor is pleased to announce the establishment of the new Center on Privacy and Technology. The Center will bring Georgetown Law’s legal expertise to bear on privacy debates in federal and state legislatures, regulatory agencies and the academy. It will also train Georgetown Law students to be leaders in privacy practice, policymaking and advocacy. 

“We are in the midst of a debate about privacy that has the most profound importance, and the ways in which it is resolved will shape the most central aspects of our lives,” Treanor said. “The new Center on Privacy and Technology will ensure that our faculty and students stay at the forefront of that debate for years to come.”

Alvaro Bedoya, Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy and to Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), will serve as the Center’s first Executive Director. The Center’s Faculty Directors will include Professors Julie Cohen, David Vladeck, Laura Donohue and Angela Campbell.

“For too many people, Big Data means Little Privacy,” said Mr. Bedoya. “The Center will be a leading voice in the debate to preserve privacy and civil liberties alongside rapidly advancing technology. I’ll be honored to lead it.”

“Alvaro is one of the nation's leading experts on the intersection of privacy, law and technology. And he's one of most talented and hard working lawyers I’ve ever met. While I'm sad to see him leave my staff after five outstanding years of service to the people of Minnesota, I’m equally excited to see Georgetown’s Center on Privacy and Technology flourish under his leadership,” said Senator Al Franken, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law.

Among the projects the Center intends to tackle are the impact of government surveillance on civil rights and economic justice, the implications of the growing use of “Big Data” techniques to make important decisions about individuals, and the privacy issues presented by breakthrough commercial technologies such as health apps, “wearables” and biometric authentication services. The Center will also offer a practicum course to teach students privacy law and basic technology tools while working on the Center’s projects.

The Center is funded by a generous grant from the Ford Foundation, the nation’s leading institutional donor for privacy-related initiatives.

Alvaro M. Bedoya currently serves as Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law and to its Chairman, Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.). He has organized Senate hearings and led oversight investigations regarding many of the nation’s leading tech companies as well as the NSA, FBI and DOJ. Since joining Senator Franken’s staff on his first day in office in 2009, he has advised Senator Franken in crafting legislation on mobile location privacy, health data privacy and NSA transparency and has coordinated the Senator’s work to improve the privacy protections around biometric technology like facial recognition and fingerprint readers. He will join the Center in August at the conclusion of the current Senate legislative work period.

Professor Julie Cohen is one of the nation's foremost privacy theorists. Professor Cohen teaches and writes about copyright, information privacy regulation and the governance of information and communication networks. Her recent book, Configuring the Networked Self: Law, Code, and the Play of Everyday Practice (Yale University Press, 2012), was awarded the 2013 Association of Internet Researchers Book Award and was shortlisted for the Surveillance & Society Journal’s 2013 Book Prize.

Professor David Vladeck recently returned to Georgetown Law after serving for nearly four years as the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is the nation’s chief regulatory agency charged with protecting privacy and data security with respect to commercial entities. During his tenure at the FTC, the agency issued many guidance documents on online and mobile privacy and brought over 50 privacy enforcement cases, many against large technology firms, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and others.  

Professor Angela Campbell is one of the nation's leading advocates for protecting children’s privacy. She has taught at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation (IPR), a legal clinical program and public interest law firm, since 1988. IPR represents nonprofit organizations before the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission to enforce and establish media policies in the public interest.

Professor Laura Donohue is one of the nation's leading experts on national security issues and directs Georgetown’s Center on National Security and the Law. She writes on national security and counterterrorist law in the United States and United Kingdom. Her most recent book, The Cost of Counterterrorism: Power, Politics and Liberty (Cambridge University Press, 2008) analyzes the impact of American and British counterterrorist law on life, liberty, property, privacy and free speech. 

Media interested in learning more should contact mediarelations@law.georgetown.edu.