Dr. Alan Westin

No one taught me more about what privacy is, and why we should care about it, than Alan Westin.

– Jeffrey Rosen

His Legacy

Throughout his life, Dr. Westin thought, wrote and talked about privacy, data protection, digital identity and the future of how societies will deal with the many difficult questions around how to maintain technological and business innovation while protecting fundamental individual rights. In his spirit, the members of the IAPP Westin Research Center work to further the body of knowledge of privacy professionals and society at large.


His Career

Throughout his career, Dr. Westin focused on studying, writing and consulting about the impact of information technology on individuals, organizations and society, particularly issues of privacy and sound data management. His award-winning book, Privacy and Freedom, is still considered one of the leading works in this field and has influenced both privacy thinking and practical activity worldwide since its publication in 1967.

Dr. Westin was professor emeritus of public law and government at Columbia University, where he taught for 37 years. In 2005, he received the IAPP Privacy Leadership Award.

In addition to Privacy and Freedom, his other works on privacy include Databanks in a Free Society (1972) with Michael Baker for the National Academy of Sciences; two monographs for the U.S. National Bureau of Standards on Computers, Health Records, and Citizen Rights (1976) and Computers, Personnel Administration, and Citizen Rights (1979); and numerous law review articles.

He was the first to understand the implications that computer technology had, as well as other kinds of automated technology, for personal privacy.

– Robert R. Belair