Visiting Fellow Timothy Edgar comments on NSA surveillance, privacy rights, and the need for public debate

    Timothy Edgar, a Visiting Fellow at the Watson Institute whose International Relations seminar on cyber conflict has been attracting many computer science concentrators, has been much in the news lately as he provides regular commentary on the continuing revelations about NSA surveillance.Edgar has been quoted in stories in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, and was interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.


    Timothy Edgar

    Edgar served in the Obama and Bush Administrations as a top privacy lawyer, doing stints in the office of the director of national intelligence, and as the first ever privacy director on the White House national security staff.“I worked with teams of lawyers and technologists on putting together privacy safeguards for some very sensitive programs, including those NSA programs that have been much in the news,” Edgar said.“One of the lessons I learned is the need for lawyers and policy officials to really listen to computer scientists.In today’s world, we cannot pretend it’s OK not to know how computers and the Internet works.”

    Edgar says he believes the programs raise real privacy concerns, even with the detailed safeguards he helped put in place.“The public wasn’t given enough information to have a meaningful debate about these programs,” Edgar says.He believes that debate is overdue, and that Brown University has a range of expertise across multiple departments that can contribute to it.“Issues of cybersecurity and privacy are inherently interdisciplinary – drawing on computer science, international relations, public policy, sociology, math and many more disciplines in which Brown has enormous strengths,” he said.“It’s great to be here.”