The top 23 privacy stories of 2010 and 2011

2010/11The Center for Democracy and Technology is running a Twtpoll on the biggest privacy story of 2010. 

Vote early and often!

Then come back and read the rest of this post.

The last #privchat of the year is winding up with a discussion top privacy stories of 2010 and 2011.  Great topics!  Too much for me to fit in 140 characters, so here’s my US-focused lists …

For 2010, I couldn’t fit it into a top 10, so here’s a dozen fourteen, in roughly-chronological order:

  1. Google Buzz
  2. Patriot Act one-year renewal
  3. Google vaccuuming up wireless data and emerging unpunished
  4. The Facebook privacy uprising (April-May)
  5. Diaspora raising $200,000 in grassroots funding
  6. Privacy-focused ads in the California Attorney General’s race
  7. The CFP Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights
  8. The Wall Street Journal’s series
  9. PrivacyActivism releases Networked: Carabella on the Run *
  10. TSA scanning and groping — and the resistance
  11. Commerce Department and FTC reports
  12. Privacy advocates organizing on social networks: #privchat, Facebook groups, …
  13. Tyler Clementi’s suicide,** highlighting the intersections of privacy, bullying, and anti-LGBTQ discrimination.
  14. Wikileaks*** highlighting the US government’s concern about the German FDP running on a pro-privacy platform, the CIA’s policy of using American diplomats to collect personal and financial information on UN officials and other foreign diplomats, and calling attention to how much information the US government routinely makes available to hundreds of thousands of employees — and how shoddy the Department of Defense’s security practices are are


  1. Emergence of usable privacy-friendly Facebook and MySpace alternatives
  2. Rolling back TSA/DHS surveillance
  3. Broad adoption of a bill of rights online
  4. Battle over Internet wiretapping (aka CALEA 2.0)
  5. Do Not Track legislation
  6. Device tracking as a major privacy threat
  7. Battle over Patriot Act renewal
  8. Pro-privacy anti-corporate activism targeting Facebook
  9. Diverse alliances and social network activism as a path to restoring the fourth amendment and the future of civil liberties

That’s how it looks to me. For perspectives from @PRC_Amber, @ProfJonathan, @AlexanderHanff, @PrivacyWonk, @JulesPolonetsky, @ehasbrouck, @repdef, @PrivacyCamp, @TMT_Lawyer, @secret123 and others, see the privchat highlights on Storify or transcript on WTHashtag

Your thoughts?


Originally written December 21; updated, December 23-4, after discussions on Twitter and Facebook.

* okay, I might be a little biased here.  Seriously, though, I think that launching a graphic novel about privacy and social networks at ComiCon is a great example of what the privacy and civil liberties community needs to be doing.  Combine it with the PrivacyActivism/EFF Carabella: Quest for Tunes game in 2002 and Carabella goes to college in 2003 and I think it’s a great story.

** added on December 24, after the comment from Dissent (aka @PogoWasRight).  My apologies for missing the tweet during #privchat!

*** added on December 23, after being suggested by Monique during #privchat, and independently by Rebecca on Facebook.  See point #12.