On May 13, Fordham Law School welcomed Julie Brill, the chief privacy officer and corporate vice president of global privacy and regulatory affairs at Microsoft, to deliver the 2022 Reidenberg Lecture. The series, which began in 2021, invites leading scholars, judges, and lawyers to the Law School to share ideas and insights about the changing landscape of information law.
Brill—a former commissioner for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and board member of the International Association of Privacy Professionals and the Center for Democracy and Technology—now leads Microsoft’s work on tech policy and regulatory issues related to privacy, safety, artificial intelligence, and other areas. Her lecture centered around the question of “what it means to protect privacy at a time when technology has elevated the importance of data in ways that would have been impossible to imagine even just a few years ago.” She discussed the role data played during the pandemic as work and other aspects of life moved online, as well as how recent advances in new digital technologies have opened up users to greater risks.
“The question now isn’t if governments should regulate the collection and use of data, but how?” said Brill. “As students, leaders, and citizens of the world, the answer we arrive at could set the parameters for the role that technology plays in our lives for decades to come.”
Brill pointed to recent debates and proposed legislation that address issues like market regulation, digital safety to protect children, and the responsible use of artificial intelligence.
“Driving this rising tide of regulation is the expectation that personal data should be secure and handled with greater respect,” said Brill. “There is a deepening sense that data should be shared more equitably to provide greater opportunity for companies of all sizes to thrive in our increasingly data-driven economy.”
Brill’s lecture was followed by a discussion featuring panelists Omer Tene, partner at Goodwin Procter; Stacey Schesser, supervising deputy attorney general for the privacy unit in the Consumer Protection Section of the California Attorney General’s Office; and Florian Schaub, an assistant professor of information, electrical engineering, and computer science at the University of Michigan. The panel was moderated by Ari Ezra Waldman, professor of law and the faculty director of the Center for Law, Information, and Creativity at Northeastern University.
The Reidenberg Lecture series memorializes the impact and achievements of Fordham Law Professor Joel Reidenberg, who passed away in 2020. Among Reidenberg’s achievements are founding and serving as the first academic director of the Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy.
“Joel was a great leader at our school,” said Dean Matthew Diller in his opening remarks, “He planted our flag around the issue of information law and privacy 20 years ago, at a point when few people recognized its importance. He was a great advocate for privacy and tremendously concerned about the risks that invasions of privacy pose to individual’s freedoms.”
Brill also mentioned meeting Reidenberg several times at conferences and meetings in Washington, D.C., while she was serving as a FTC commissioner.
“[Joel] had a keen interest in ensuring that we would realize the promise of technology by holding it to the highest ethical standards,” said Brill. “I’m honored to be part of this gathering today, in the spirit of keeping Joel’s passion alive.”