Individuals’ ability to control the use and disclosure of personal information changes dramatically as new technologies emerge and social norms evolve. These changes can empower institutions over individuals, or free individuals from coercive powers of the private or public sector. The Samuelson Clinic is focused on several problems arising from these changes, with the goal of promoting a public interest vision for privacy.

Critical to understanding these dynamics is the idea that privacy creates breathing room for important values in a democracy. Privacy is a necessary condition for ability to associate freely, to speak freely, and to engage in unencumbered intellectual exploration. While well-intentioned, video surveillance cameras, identification systems, and profiling systems can affect how we participate in democracy. They can empower the government to sort individuals according to terms that are discriminatory or political. The Clinic’s advocacy connects privacy and democratic values, with the goal of accommodating legitimate needs of law enforcement while preserving individuals’ rights.

The private sector has less coercive power than the government, but in recent years, information sharing collaborations between the private and public sectors point to the need to rethink whether commercial collection poses similar risks as when the government obtains personal information. Databases of consumer information are becoming richer, more predictive, and are used in more contexts, thus affecting individuals’ autonomy. The Clinic’s advocacy is focused on identifying these developments and empowering individuals to access, correct, and limit reuse of personal data.

The Clinic also focuses on the problem of security breaches and identity theft. Professor Mulligan, in collaboration with now California Senator Joseph Simitian, developed AB 700, known popular as SB 1386, which established a duty among businesses and California government agencies to give individuals notice of security breaches. The Clinic is exploring the effects of these laws in institutions. The Clinic is also focused on the problems posed by identity theft: how can we reduce the incidence and severity of this crime? How can costs of identity theft passed on to consumers be internalized by thieves and credit grantors who enable the crime?


Memorandum from Electronic Frontier Foundation and the SLTPPC Regarding Technical Issues with Anonymization & Aggregation of Detailed Energy Usage Data as Methods for Protecting Customer Privacy2013Memorandum
Memorandum from Electronic Frontier Foundation and the SLTPPC Regarding Legal Considerations for Smart Grid Energy Sharing2013Memorandum
Samuelson Clinic Submitted Comments to the California Public Utilities Commission on Privacy and the "Smart Grid" on behalf of the Center for Democracy & Technology 2010Clinical Project, Comments
New Report Explores Californians' Understanding of Privacy Online2008Report
Samuelson Clinic Survey Finds Strong Support for Privacy of Location Data2008Report
Clinic Study Finds Many Companies Are Quietly Selling Personal Information to Third Parties2007Report
Clinic Attorney to Present on SSN Use at FTC Workshop2007Presentation
New Study Recommends Reforms for Security Breach Notification Laws2007Research Paper
Samuelson, Annenberg Report: Consumers Believe Privacy Policies Prohibit Common Advertising Practices2007Report
Clinic Comments on Private Sector Use of the Social Security Number2007Comments
Samuelson Clinic Filed Amicus Brief in Hepting v. AT&T on behalf of People for the American Way Foundation2007Brief
Samuelson Clinic, Annenberg School of Communication Presented Report to FTC2006Report
Samuelson Clinic Director Testified Before Department of Homeland Security on Expectations of Privacy in Public Spaces2006Testimony
Samuelson Clinic Students Assisted the Constitution Project in Preparing Guidelines for Video Surveillance2006Report
Samuelson Clinic Director, Fellow Participated at Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference2006Presentation
Samuelson Clinic Released Paper on Legal, Technical, and Software Interface Design Issues Related to Spyware2005Research Paper, Presentation
Clinic Submits Comments to U.S. Department of State on Electronic Passports on behalf of Eight Leading Computer Scientists and Engineers2005Comments
Stopping Spyware at the Gate: A User Study of Privacy, Notice and Spyware2005Research paper
Storing Our Lives Online: Expanded Email Storage Raises Complex Policy Issues2005Research paper
Reasonable Expectations in Electronic Communications: A Critical Perspective on the Electronic Communications Privacy Act2004Research Paper
Radio Frequency Identification and Privacy with Information Goods2004Research Paper, Presentation
Enforcing Privacy Rights Symposium 20022003Research Paper
Ubiquitous Computing: RFID and Information Goods2003Research Project
Who Goes There? Authentication Through the Lens of Privacy2003Report
IDs - Not That Easy: Questions About Nationwide Identity Systems2002Report
Standards Project2001Research Paper
Location Information Privacy Project ["Geopriv"]2001Comments
Your Place or Mine?: Privacy Concerns and Solutions for Server and Client-side Storage of Personal Information2000Research Paper
Privacy in the Digital Age: Work in Progress1999Research Paper
Report Details Californians' Understanding of Privacy OfflineReport