Meet the Center for Democracy & Technology's Joseph Jerome, CIPP/US. He's a self-proclaimed "privacy nutter," writer for The IAPP's blog, Privacy Perspectives, and champion of interdisciplinary privacy discussion. In this edition of "Volunteer Spotlight," he discusses both his work with the IAPP and the common problems plaguing privacy pros.
The Privacy Advisor: Tell me a bit about what you do, and how it touches privacy or security.
Jerome: I just started as policy counsel for the privacy and data team at the Center for Democracy & Technology. Before that, I was at a privacy practice at a major law firm. All my work touches on privacy and technology. Now, I get to come at it at an angle that is pro-tech and also consumer-friendly and advocacy-friendly. I’m in a much better position to be critical of practices I found worrisome.
At the CDT, we do a lot of different things; basically making sure the internet is the best it can be, advancing free expression, and promoting privacy and security in data uses and devices. We play a really important role in making sure companies, public agencies and law enforcement areapproaching policy and technology in a way that protects privacy and respects the Fourth Amendment.
The Privacy Advisor: What got you into the privacy world initially?
Jerome: I’m someone who went to law school and thought constitutional law was the most interesting thing, and that motivated me to come to D.C. and do policy work.
I started at a nonprofit focused on a lot of traditional core constitutional questions. No one was really thinking about tech; I was the person who looked into the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act.
I eventually fell into Fourth Amendment counterterrorism questions and that got me into the privacy world. And then, at the Future of Privacy Forum, I started working on consumer privacy law when the Snowden revelations came out. There were all these questions — that was sort of the catalyzing moment. “Now I think I can turn this into an actual career.”
The Privacy Advisor: What people have impacted your professional life the most?
Jerome: There are so so so very many. The people at CDT. I was tremendously honored to have the opportunity to work here, with Nuala [O'Connor, CIPP/G, CIPP/US], and Chris [Calabrese]. I used to work with Jules Polonetsky, who is the best form of crazy. I’ve been really fortunate to both have coffee with and be in the same room with incredible thoughtful people. I can name names if you want, but there’s lots of cool people in tech policy.
The Privacy Advisor: How did you get involved with the IAPP?
Jerome: Well, when I first started at the FPF, Jules’ big thing was the [IAPP Global] Privacy Summit – he called it, like, “privacy Christmas.” I was able to tag along and realized, “there are thousands of people who care about things, so, well, I guess I've got to become a member.”
The Privacy Advisor: How do you volunteer with the IAPP?
Jerome: I’ve been able to write some things for Privacy Perspectives, so I managed to get on one of your advisory boards. Friends down here are harassing me to get involved in IAPP After Hours and KnowledgeNets; there’s so much to keep straight. It’s a good sense of community.
It’s weird, there’s all sorts of legal organizations in D.C., but privacy is really its own sort of private community. Technology and privacy can be really niche subjects, and you can only start off talking about them at some privacy happy hours and not feel ridiculous.
The Privacy Advisor: What are some common problems you face as privacy pro?
Jerome: If we could solve the enduring problem of how to make privacy policies both legally valid and readable to consumers!
Then there’s the bigger-question type things, it’s not really privacy per-se, but how do we use data in a way that is ethical, that is fair, anti-discriminatory? I’m reading stuff about the common rule, talking to researchers about what they think about ethics.
Then there’s giant technical questions, which can include the inability to communicate across different industries and professions. Take a term like biometrics. How do you define them from a legislative level? How do you define that from a practical level? How do you make it work for consumers?
The Privacy Advisor: What are you passionate about?
Jerome: Privacy. It’s hard to shut off. Not really sure what I should divulge because I’m a giant nerd. I've got a giant stack of video games to play, and I need to get back into photography. But I go to bed downloading apps, reading some privacy polices — got to do it for fun.
The Privacy Advisor: You get the last word.
Jerome: A very important trend in privacy and tech policy is it’s important to communicate and have cross-disciplinary dialogue. That’s one of the reasons I’m happy to be at CDT – cross disciplinary [work] is very exciting. To the IAPP’s credit, you stand for that, too. As the IAPP grows and increases in scope, it’s cool to see different types of folks enter our space. As a reluctant lawyer at best, it’s great to see lawyers talk to different types of people to get a different perspectives on “privacy.”
If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.