Andrew McLaughlin, Ari Schwartz opening PrivacyCampDC!

With PrivacyCampDC only two days away, we are excited to announce that the the White House deputy CTO for Internet Policy, Andrew McLaughlin, will be opening the day and framing the issues around privacy. McLaughlin has a long history of dealing with the intersection of policy and technology, and served as Google’s director of global policy before joining the White House.

McLaughlin will be introduced by the Center of Democracy and Technology’s Ari Schwartz.

If you are interested in joining us, please register here – we are hoping for a lively discussion, even first thing in the morning!


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PrivacyCamp is Coming to a City Near You

In the next 20 days, CDT will be participating in two PrivacyCamp events – one in DC and a second in San Francisco (a third event is also being planned in Toronto for June). PrivacyCamp is an “unconference” – a space to meet with, discuss, debate, and share knowledge about privacy with engineers, privacy advocates, academics. We meet in the morning to determine the day’s agenda and topics, and then break out into groups for sessions.

PrivacyCamp provides a unique opportunity to talk not only about technology privacy, but a great place for a solid “reality check” from players across the tech spectrum. We aim to bridge the gap between technologists and policy makers, aligning the interests of the industry and turning theory into practice.

This is a repost from a blog originally posted on

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PrivacyCamp has expanded!

Radical.  Where is it?

This year, PrivacyCamp will be held in three cities: DC, San Francisco, and Toronto.

PrivacyCamp DC, held April 17, will focus on privacy and government policy.  The San Francisco camp, held May 7 after the Web 2.0 Expo, aims to examine privacy and social networks.  In addition to broader privacy issue, the Toronto event will look at underexposed topics such as gender and privacy.

This just blew my mind.  Where do I go for my PrivacyCamp fix?

You go here.  From now on, this site will serve as the source for all PrivacyCamp material, with registration available for individual camps as appropriate.  While posts from last year’s camp will remain up, you might notice the following changes:

  • Logo no longer lists “DC”
  • Twitter feed comes from “PrivacyCamp”, not “PrivacyCampDC”
  • “Schedule” replaced with “Upcoming PrivacyCamps”

For more information, comment below or contact Josh Berg at

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Highlights from PrivacyCampDC!

PrivacyCampDC is in the books and it was fantastic!  A collection of people representing interests in both the public and private sector gathered together to share knowledge and expertise on a number of topics including (but certainly not limited to) the future of privacy rights in a Government 2.0 world, surveillance technologies, digital signage, updating the 1974 federal Privacy Act (something CDT is pushing for citizen feedback on with their Privacy Act Wiki if you want to check it out), and how we achieve a greater level of transparency and openness without compromising ones privacy.  With attendees representing privacy organizations, federal agencies, security companies, information technology and even Congress, there were a lot of great ideas shared during the event.

One of the most important takeaways that nearly everyone walked away with was the notion that collaborative discussion is vital to protecting privacy in the digital age.  The more voices and interests at the table from the beginning, the more likely concerns will be addressed as legislation is crafted, regulations are made, and the intersection between government and new and emerging technologies grows.

The event was tweeted under the hashtag #privacydc and a video slideshow featuring photos from the event’s Flickr page is available below.  Can’t wait for the next one!

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Thanks – Tell Us How We Did

Thanks to the over 50 people that came today to the first PrivacyCamp in DC!  A huge thanks to the Center for American Progress (Action Fund) for an awesome location as well.

We think that the day went well, but you tell us.   Please take a moment to fill out this survey and tell us what worked, what did not, and what we should do at the next one.

Click here for the survey.

Check out the TwitCast from Twazzup here.


Shaun Dakin

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Live from PrivacyCampDC

Check out some photos of the morning sessions from PrivacyCampDC09!  You can submit photos by emailing them to  Check out the photos at:

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Ads with Eyes

This post is from Harley Geiger, staff counsel at the Center for Democracy and Technology. A more in depth introduction to digital signage can be found on the CDT blog, in two parts. Harley has kindly offered to lead a session on digital signage at Privacy Camp.

Television screens increasingly blaze in public spaces. In many settings, particularly at retail establishments, the TVs are perpetually tuned to a channel with nothing but commercials. In other instances, such as schools and government offices, the screens flash announcements and public safety information. This up-and-coming medium goes by different names, including captive audience networks, but the most common is digital signage.

Now, in a development with significant privacy implications, digital signage is slowly integrating identification technologies. The purpose is to boost audience measurement and exposure. The industry’s eventual wish is to target advertising to individual consumers based on demographics and shopping history.

Currently, most digital signs are just flat screens displayed in some trafficked area, playing a video loop. The contents of the video are often controlled via computer, enabling one master location to control thousands of connected units. However, from an advertiser’s perspective, a shortcoming of digital signage and billboards is the difficulty in determining who sees the display unit. This makes it difficult for advertisers or others to measure the size of the message’s audience and to target specific demographics within that audience. The industry’s solution appears to be teensy-weensy facial recognition cameras.
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Do Voters Deserve Privacy From Politicians and Candidates?

Shaun Dakin, CEO and Founder of The National Political Do Not Contact Registry, is one of the lead organizers for PrivacyCampDC.

Do Voters deserve privacy protection during campaigns?  Or, does the first amendment, protecting freedom of speech, have priority?

For many of us the invasion of privacy by candidates during elections is the price to bear for Democracy.   Robocalls, email spam, direct mail, TV and Radio ads, and door to door canvassing are all meant to be “dealt with” by voters.   “Just unplug the phone”, candidates and political consultants tell me.

But what if you lived in a battleground state during a Presidential election cycle?  (PA, OH, FL, NC and others)

If you did, you could be receiving up to 15 robo calls a day.   15 robo calls a day.  Really.

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The Privacy Act and Government 2.0

By Heather West, policy analyst for open government and privacy issues at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

One of the topics that I’ll be proposing a session on is the relationship between outdated privacy policies within government and the advances of government 2.0 we’ve all been talking about at other DC barcamps. The Privacy Act of 1974 illustrates how these policies and laws need to evolve along with technology. The Privacy Act is the law that determines how the government can use your information and you are notified that your information is being collected. Unfortunately, this law dates back to before disco music and eight-track audio- when information was stored on index cards in file cabinets.

It seems clear that federal privacy standards written during a time when “data storage facility” literally referred to file cabinets is due for an update in the digital era. While the basic framework of the Privacy act has held up well over the past 35 years, changes need to be made to insure that the advent of new technologies does not threaten to undermine the protections that have been put in place.

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Gov2.0 Privacy Issues for PrivacyCampDC

A post from Noel Dickover, a consultant for the Department of Defense CIO on social software and emerging technology, rece and is on the advisory board for the Open Government and Innovations conference. This post was originally at his blog– thanks for letting us repost it!

In looking toward participating in PrivacyCampDC this Saturday, there are a number of privacy issues I’m concerned about regarding the movement toward open government.  While I am totally in favor of transforming government through transparency, participation and collaboration, I think it puts privacy at greater risk.  Whatever our answer in addressing this, it will involve tradeoffs.

What’s Changed? The movement toward Open Government changes the nature of the relationship between the government and its citizens.  Previously, the government was responsible for providing services to citizens, who merely consumed them.  Now we are entering an era of two way transparent participation and collaboration, in which citizens will be responsible for assisting Federal Agencies with sensemaking, priority setting and policy making.  In short, citizens are being asked to roll up their sleeves to help the Federal Government in providing the right services.

How does this Affect Privacy? I would contend that like many statutes, the movement towards Open Government renders the operational details of the Privacy Act problematic at best.  Two way participation and collaboration is often based on trust. This has implications both for the privacy details of the citizen and and the government employee they are engaged in discussions with.  As long as the citizen is merely a receptor of a government service, a citizen’s identity is often not needed.  Two-way participation implies a relationship, which more often than not may necessitate giving up privacy data.    Worse, as more and more government services are web-enabled, the citizen will be forced to provide their personally identifiable information (PII) in more and more places.  The opportunity for data spillage and identity theft is only going to increase.

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About Privacy Camp

PrivacyCamp is an multi-city unconference about privacy focusing on government policy and social networking.