Contributor: Adam Thierer

Adam Thierer is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University with the Technology Policy Program. His primary research interests are technology, media, Internet and free speech policy issues, with a particular focus on online child safety and digital privacy policy issues. Thierer has spent almost two decades in the public policy research community. He previously served as president of the Progress & Freedom Foundation, director of Telecommunications Studies at the Cato Institute, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and researcher at the Adam Smith Institute in London.

Opinion

Putting Privacy Concerns about the Internet of Things in Perspective

By Adam Thierer

I've written here and elsewhere about the growing privacy and security concerns surrounding the rise of the "Internet of Things" (IoT) era. Many privacy advocates are already decrying the potential for massive security threats and privacy violations in a world of always-on, always-sensing devices. I've admitted that there are some valid reasons for concern, even though I've also argued that most...

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Opinion

Do We Need A Constitutional Amendment Restricting Private-Sector Data Collection?

By Adam Thierer

In an editorial in last Sunday’s New York Times (“Madison’s Privacy Blind Spot”), Jeffrey Rosen, a leading privacy scholar and the president and chief executive of the National Constitution Center, proposed “a constitutional amendment to prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures of our persons and electronic effects, whether by the government or by private corporations like Google and AT&T.”

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Opinion

Why I Haven't Yet Given Up Hope on Contracting Around Personal Data

By Adam Thierer

Why is it that better methods of digital contracting and data ownership have not yet developed to help us protect our privacy online?  

It’s not like these are new ideas. In fact, way back in the Net’s dial-up dark ages—1996 to be exact—Cal-Berkeley economist Hal R. Varian, now chief economist with Google, penned a short, but widely-cited, essay on “Economic Aspects of Personal Privacy” that...

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Point - Counterpoint

Can We Adapt to the Internet of Things?

By Adam Thierer

Note from the Editor:

This is the second post in a point/counterpoint between Center for Democracy & Technology Consumer Privacy Director Justin Brookman and Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Adam Thierer. Yesterday, Brookman discussed Privacy in a World of Peristent Surveillance.

The so-called “Internet of Things” is emerging and it promises to usher in profound changes that will rival the first wave of Internet innovation. As microchips and sensors are increasingly embedded into almost all the “smart devices” that we own and come into contact with, a truly “seamless web” of connectivity will finally exist. At the same time, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or private...

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Point - Counterpoint

Let's Not Place All Our Eggs in the Do Not Track Basket

By Adam Thierer

Note from the Editor:

This is the first post in a point/counterpoint between Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Adam Thierer and Center for Democracy & Technology Consumer Privacy Director Justin Brookman. Look for Brookman's response next week and for more point/counterpoint posts from contributors in the future.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned in twenty-one years of covering information technology policy, it’s that there are no simple silver-bullet solutions to complex issues like online safety, hate speech, spam, cybersecurity, data breaches or digital privacy. Problems such as these demand a layered, multifaceted approach that incorporates many solutions, the first among these being education and...

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