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CITP Webinar: Ed Felten – COVID-19, Technology, Privacy and Civil Liberties

Thursday, April 16, 2020
3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Photo of Ed Felten

Video available here.

Many systems have been proposed for using technology to help individuals and public health officials better respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. This talk will analyze the major proposed uses of information technology in the public health response to COVID-19, including aggregate reporting, contact tracing via direct proximity detection or location history matching, and creation of disease status passports. The public health value of these approaches will be considered along with their privacy and civil liberties implications. For several approaches, broad public acceptance is a prerequisite for success, making careful privacy and civil liberties protection an important contributor to public health goals.


Edward W. Felten is the Robert E. Kahn Professor of Computer Science and Public Affairs at Princeton University and the founding director of Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy. In 2011-12 he served as the first chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission. His research interests include computer security and privacy, especially relating to media and consumer products; and technology law and policy. He has published about 80 papers in the research literature and two books. His research on topics such as web security, copyright and copy protection, and electronic voting has been covered extensively in the popular press. His weblog, at, is widely read for its commentary on technology, law and policy.

Professor Felten is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a fellow of the ACM. He has testified at House and Senate committee hearings on privacy, electronic voting and digital television. In 2004, Scientific American magazine named him to its list of 50 worldwide science and technology leaders.