By JENNIFER K. BAUER
Every day, as electronic devices collect ever-expanding loads of information about us, a little more privacy erodes away.
Many are happy to share photos, details on what they ate for lunch, how many steps they took and who they’re dating. Then there’s the data we don’t see collected by GPS devices, public and private video cameras, banks, medical clinics, websites and apps. Evolving technologies, like drones, present new questions and debates. Where is information going? How long is it held for? Who is giving it to third parties?
These thorny and rapidly evolving issues have spawned a new layer of government. This spring, Washington became one of the latest states to create the position of chief privacy officer. Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Alex Alben, a former tech company lawyer and executive to the role. Alben will speak on “Privacy in the Digital Age” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 28 at Basalt Cellars Winery in Clarkston as part of the Asotin County Library’s Wine and Wisdom series.
Alben, who lives in Seattle, did not respond to a request for an interview. He began his career as a researcher for Walter Cronkite at CBS Evening News in New York in 1980. A graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Law School, he went on to work as a Hollywood studio and software company executive and is the author of “Analog Days — How Technology Rewrote Our Future.” He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2004. In an April guest column for the Seattle Times, he argued for the creation of a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution that specifically protects privacy.
According to a news release, Alben “will address concepts of personal privacy, digital tracking, the concept of ‘celebrity’ and what we are each willing to give up to preserve privacy in the online environment.”
The Wine and Wisdom series continues Aug. 11 when Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University, will speak on “Political Incivility and Polarization in America.” On Aug. 25, Seattle scholar Lance Rhoades will discuss how Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” figures into modern debates about technology, slavery and suffrage. All programs are at 7 p.m. at Basalt Cellars.
If you go
What: “Wine and Wisdom: Privacy in the Digital Age”
Who: Alex Alben, chief privacy officer for the state of Washington
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 28
Where: Basalt Cellars Winery, 906 Port Drive, Clarkston
The date of Alben’s visit was listed incorrectly in the original version of this story because of incorrect information provided to Inland 360. The story has been edited with correct information.