Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Privacy and Security in a Wireless World

What are the ethical risks society may confront as municipalities begin to offer ubiquitous and possibly free access to the Internet? That question was the subject of a program, "Privacy and Security in a Wireless World," held August 23, 2006, at Santa Clara University. The event was co-sponsored by SCU's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and Center for Science, Technology and Society, and the Wireless Silicon Valley Task Force of Joint Venture Silicon Valley.

Panelists from law enforcement, the private and the non-profit sectors discussed: What will we gain from widely available wireless in terms of easier access to information and services? What do we risk through possible abuse of customer information by service providers or theft of personal information? How will we balance potentially increased security through surveillance of communications against losses of privacy and potential abuses by law enforcement?

Position papers, presentation transcripts, and related op-eds are available on the Wireless Silicon Valley site.

Participants included
  • Graham Barnes, senior vice president and general manager, Covad

  • Lauren Gelman, associate director Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

  • Sherman Hall, REACT Task Force (cyber crime), Atherton Police Dept.

  • Russell Hancock, CEO, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network

  • Jane Light, Director, San Jose Public Library/San Jose State Library

  • Nicole Ozer, Civil Liberties and Technology Policy Director, ACLU

  • John Tuomy, president, Secures Content, and former board member, Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education

The program was moderated by Al Hammond, director, Broadband Institute of California, Santa Clara University School of Law.


The Wireless Silicon Valley Task Force is confronting these issues as it evaluates proposals from wireless vendors to create a regional system throughout the valley. The same issues will arise for the other municipalities and regions that are considering such systems.

"Privacy and Security in a Wireless World" inaugurated the second year of a series on information technology, ethics, and society, co-sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University.



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