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The Privacy Advisor | Mulligan reflects on 2016 IAPP Leadership Award Related reading: McSweeny, Soltani, and regulating the IoT





The University of California, Berkeley’s Deirdre Mulligan received the 2016 IAPP Leadership Award with Kenneth Bamberger on Wednesday at the 2016 IAPP Global Privacy Summit in Washington for their research leading to the warmly received ode to the privacy profession, Privacy on the Ground, recently published by MIT Press.

The annual award is presented to those who demonstrated “a commitment to furthering the field of privacy, promoting the recognition of privacy issues, and advancing the growth and facility of the profession,” said the IAPP’S Executive Board Vice Chair Hilary Wandall, CIPM, CIPP/E, CIPP/US, calling Mulligan’s “passion”-filled work “groundbreaking.”

The ability to do hearty empirical research was a testament to the state of the privacy field, Mulligan said. Contributors “actually felt like they had a story to tell,” she continued. “There was strategic leadership. There were things that were happening. There were processes and procedures in place. People were ready to talk because they felt like they had things they could educate us about and share with us,” she said.

Mulligan, who with Bamberger also delivered a keynote address at the Summit, noted the changes within the industry, calling herself “one of those rare birds” whose career started in privacy and whose memories could stretch back to the community's earlier days. “I, as a law student, worked with the Privacy and Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union … and as I reflect back, the room looked very different.” Beyond a handful of other female privacy scholars, it was Mulligan and “a sea of men in black suits,” she said. “I just want to say that the privacy community is robust and interesting and really diverse and dynamic. And I have appreciated being in a community that has grown in so many ways, including its interdisciplinary [spirit].”

“Behind any interesting idea there has got to be a checkbook,” Mulligan added, taking a moment to thank those who financially invested in Privacy on the Ground, such as the National Science Foundation, The Privacy Projects, Intel, and Berkley’s Miller Institute, among others. These partnerships gave the team “the opportunity and the resources to do this empirical work, which is difficult to fund,” she said. “We’ve really been grateful for the variety of sources who have enabled this research.”

Many of those who devoted time, talents, and perspectives to “Privacy on the Ground” were right there in front of her at Summit, she added. “This research would not have been possible if not for the generosity and willingness of the people in this room,” she continued. “It was really a tremendous gift you gave us as researchers that is rarely paralleled in academia,” she said. “And we hope [the work] ... is worth the generosity.”

Mulligan also left listeners with a charge. While her “most important scholarly contribution” marked a significant boon in privacy research and indicated a shifting within the community, there was more work to be done, she said. “We need more people that represent all the different ways culture and society is expressed, because that helps brings privacy and all of its richness into the work … and we need people with different skills,” she said. Beyond lawyers, the interdisciplinary privacy community not only had room for, but also needed, the input of those from the design, information science and engineering communities, she argued. 

Regardless, she said, “the future of privacy is very bright.”


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