Privacy advocate Caspar Bowden has died, according to German site Netzpolitik.org. Bowden was well known in the privacy community as an outspoken activist concerned about mass government surveillance, even before the Snowden revelations broke.
Bowden was well known to the IAPP community, having worked as Microsoft’s chief privacy advisor from 2002 to 2011. In that role, he spoke at the very first IAPP Privacy Academy in 2003. His departure from the company was tied in with his concerns about U.S. surveillance policies and the National Security Agency's relationships with private business.
Before Microsoft, he worked as the director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research; Internet Consultant for Qualia and financial strategist for Goldman Sachs. He attended Cambridge University.
In early 2013, before the Snowden revelations would hit that summer, Bowden co-authored a report warning that the U.S. Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Amendments Act could have grave consequences for non-U.S. citizens, citing risks to "EU-data sovereignty" given that it applies to cloud computing and gives U.S. agencies the power to surveill non-Americans, as Slate reported.
Fellow privacy advocate Justin Brookman told The Privacy Advisor, “Caspar was a dedicated and brilliant advocate, and a deeply caring person. He knew as much about intelligence law as anyone I've ever met. Occasionally he forgot that not everyone knew as much as he did when explaining the NSA's excesses, but he would be happy to patiently explain the minutiae of the FISA Amendments Act to anyone who was interested. He was one of the first to fully recognize just how the rise in cloud processing empowers state surveillance. He spent his life trying to protect individual liberty, and I will miss him."
Bowden had a strong presence on Twitter, with more than 5,000 followers. Most of the posts on his feed focused on the perils of government surveillance, especially in the U.S. and UK, and bulk data collection. In 2013, Bowden said at a conference in Switzerland that he hadn't traveled with a cell phone for two years prior, and said law under which the National Security Agency was collecting bulk data meant, "If you're not American, there's no protection," as reported by The Guardian.
The Twittersphere has been blowing up today with reactions to Bowden’s death.
From Tor and other major privacy and civil liberties organizations:
Thinking fondly of UK visit when Caspar Bowden hosted an amazing group for a privacy salon. A brilliant and kind man who will be missed.
— Paul Ohm (@paulohm) July 9, 2015
As well as privacy pros and advocates:
Reporters and bloggers chimed in:
Not to mention some of the world's top security experts and digital activists:
RIP Caspar Bowden :/ A man of great value, who understood the techno-political architrcture of surveillance before most of everyone else. <3— Jérémie Zimmermann (@jerezim) July 9, 2015
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