Law 483 - Privacy, Data and Technology

Alex Alben

Alex Alben

Lecturer in Law
A.B. Stanford University, 1980
J.D. Stanford Law School, 1984
Course Description:

“Privacy" has emerged as a critical component of consumer protection in our data-driven economy.  Most Americans believe that privacy is under siege, yet they would find it difficult to define what they mean by “privacy” or identify where the right to privacy originates.

This class will examine privacy from three angles:  1. A brief history of American law relating to privacy, including key Supreme Court cases and legislative statutes, including California’s new privacy law; 2. A study of the way personal information is shared, sold and traded in today’s digital economy; and 3. Investigation of how specific technologies can either threaten or safeguard privacy, with a focus on the Internet of Things, surveillance technologies and smart phones.

Mr. Alben has served as the Chief Privacy Officer both for a leading Internet company—RealNetworks, Inc.—and for the State of Washington.  He writes frequently about law, privacy and media for a variety of publications.  He helped draft Washington’s proposed privacy statute in the 2019 legislative session.

Course Learning Outcomes:

The objective of this course is for students to gain:

• A multi-faceted perspective on how personal data is utilized in the tech economy and how social media companies are struggling with regulating mandating more user control over data;
•  An “insider perspective” on how privacy laws are negotiated and made on both the state and national level;
• An understanding of the key technologies driving the case for consumer protections, including the IoT, Genomic and Biological identifiers and Surveillance devices;
• A basic familiarity with the evolution of American Privacy Law, both in Supreme Court cases and in major statutes;
• An in-depth understanding of how Privacy, especially the “False Light” privacy torts work in tension with the First Amendment and press freedom.
• A sense of what it means to work as a privacy professional in today’s business and legal environment.