Deirdre G. Martin Memorial Lecture on Privacy Law

Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Why privacy online is different, and why it isn't"
Speaker: Helen Nissenbaum, Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University
Tuesday, February 22, 2011, 4:30pm
Gowlings Moot Court Room (FTX 147B)

Helen Nissenbaum

The Deirdre G. Martin Memorial Lecture was established thanks to the generosity of her colleagues at the Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Legal Division.

Ms. Martin (’78) passed away on June 21, 2006 after a short illness. She was a loving mother of three children, a passionate and excellent lawyer, a dedicated daughter and sister, and a caring friend to many people, each of whom feels her loss deeply. Her law school friends remember her charming and infectious smile—it will be sadly missed.

Ms. Martin was Senior Counsel with the Insurance Bureau of Canada from 1998 until 2006. She was an expert on the application of the federal, Alberta, and British Columbia privacy laws to the property and casualty insurance industry. Ms. Martin was a gifted speaker who enjoyed making presentations on the implementation of these privacy laws. Between 2001 and 2004, she conducted training seminars across Canada to over two thousand people from P&C insurance companies, independent brokers, and claims adjusters.

The lecture is held annually in February.

Spurred by revelations in mainstream media of surreptitious monitoring, much of it spurred by the ascent of behavioral advertising, there has been a resurgence of interest in online privacy among government agencies and the general public. Despite its acknowledged failure, in the United States, notice-and-consent, fortified in one way or another, remains the fallback mechanism for privacy protection. In this talk, I will outline an approach based in the theory of contextual integrity that calls for a different starting place. I argue that notice-and-consent can function only against the backdrop of context-based substantive norms constraining what websites may do; what information they can collect, with whom they can share, and under what conditions. As a first step, however, it is useful to understand the role commerce has played in setting the agenda and how this influence should be contained.

Helen Nissenbaum is Professor of Media, Culture and Communication, and Computer Science, at New York University, where she is also Senior Faculty Fellow of the Information Law Institute. Her areas of expertise span social, ethical, and political implications of information technology and digital media. Nissenbaum's research publications have appeared in journals of philosophy, politics, law, media studies, information studies, and computer science. She has written and edited four books, including Privacy in Context: Technology, Policy, and the Integrity of Social Life, which was published in 2010 by Stanford University Press. The National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Ford Foundation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator have supported her work on privacy, trust online, and security, as well as several studies of values embodied in computer system design, including search engines, digital games, facial recognition technology, and health information systems.

Nissenbaum holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University and a B.A. (Hons) from the University of the Witwatersrand. Before joining the faculty at NYU, she served as Associate Director of the Center for Human Values at Princeton University.


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