Privacy Advisor

Weitzner Takes Home Privacy Leadership Award from Summit

April 1, 2013

By Sam Pfeifle
Publications Director

At the 2013 IAPP Global Privacy Summit, Hewlett-Packard VP and CPO Scott Taylor, CIPP/US, used his time at the podium to announce MIT’s Daniel Weitzner as the recipient of the 2013 IAPP Privacy Leadership Award.

Citing Weitzner’s time as deputy chief technology officer at the White House and his efforts in promoting the free flow of information with privacy in mind, Taylor called Weitzner, now director and co-founder of the Decentralized Information Group at MIT, a “foundational leader in Internet policy.”

Specifically, Taylor said, Weitzner’s work at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Center for Democracy and Technology, World Wide Web Consortium and in helping to develop the White House’s Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, showed his commitment to “strong protection for privacy” and “developing laws that help to control surveillance by government of e-mail and web browsing data…We’re fortunate to have his passions dedicated to our field.”

In accepting the award, Weitzner took time to highlight two principles of the Consumer Bill of Rights. The first was “individual control”: “We lead with this because we believe that people must have the freedom to control how the information about themselves is used. We want to encourage the free flow of information, but we know that if citizens find themselves surprised by how personal information is used and taken out of context, they’ll lose trust in the online environment; they’ll engage less, and they’ll feel less free.”

Secondly, he emphasized that the bill would ensure “bad behavior is held to account.”

Finally, Weitzner made a point to encourage the collected privacy leaders at the summit, referencing the fundamental work of privacy icon Alan Westin. “Following his lead,” Weitzner said, “we can see how important these issues are. The whole world is watching what we do and how you do your work.” Nor will that work’s importance decline in the near future, he predicted. Part of that world that is watching is the “70 percent of the world’s population that’s waiting to join the information age.”

In closing, Weitzner referenced words spoken to him by his old boss, U.S. President Barack Obama. “Justice Brandeis taught us that privacy is the right to be left alone,” Weitzner remembered Obama telling him, “and citizens who feel protected feel free to engage in commerce and participate in the economy…Even though we live in a world where we share information more freely, we must reject that privacy is an outmoded idea.”