23 February 2013

R.I.P. Alan Westin ~ Privacy & Freedom Pioneer

Sad to read that Alan F Westin has passed away. In NYTimes obit, Margalit Fox writes that Westin, Who Transformed Privacy Debate Before the Web Era, Dies at 83...
"...a legal scholar who nearly half a century ago defined the modern right to privacy in the incipient computer age -- a definition that anticipated the reach of Big Brother and helped circumscribe its limits -- died on Monday [...] Through his work -- notably his book “Privacy and Freedom,” published in 1967 and still a canonical text -- Mr. Westin was considered to have created, almost single-handedly, the modern field of privacy law. [...] During these years, long before the personal computer and longer still before the Internet, Mr. Westin set out to codify just this kind of privacy for the modern age. “He knew social history, and he could appreciate the directions that the technology was pushing the social contract,” [...] Individuals, Mr. Westin argued in “Privacy and Freedom,” have the right to determine how much of their personal information is disclosed and to whom, how it should be maintained and how disseminated. “This concept became the cornerstone of our modern right to privacy,” said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an advocacy group in Washington. “Part of ‘Privacy and Freedom’ is the argument that privacy enables freedom.”
An heroic thinker, sometimes wrong (for example, about the vile so-called Patriot Act) but basically a defender of rightful liberties. R.I.P.

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