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Award-Winning Privacy Scholarship

February 28, 2023

Prof. Anita L. Allen’s article on privacy, race, equity, and online data-protection reform has been awarded a 2023 Privacy Papers for Policymakers Award.

Allen’s article is featured in Advances in Research, the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School’s annual premier publication that highlights outstanding faculty research and scholarship.

Anita L. Allen, Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, has received a 2023 Privacy Papers for Policymakers (PPPM) Award for her pathbreaking article, “Dismantling the ‘Black Opticon’: Privacy, Race, Equity, and Online Data-Protection Reform.” Published in the Yale Law Journal Forum, Allen’s article introduces a critical analysis of the particularized vulnerabilities African Americans experience through online surveillance, exclusion, and exploitation. Allen terms this intersecting pattern “the Black Opticon.”

In her African American Online Equity Agenda (AAOEA), Allen set sets forth a “specific set of policy-making imperatives … to inform legal and institutional initiatives toward ending African Americans’ heightened vulnerability to a discriminatory digital society violative of privacy, social equality, and civil rights” and uses this framework to analyze three potential legislative solutions. Ultimately, her work delineates the urgent need for explicitly antiracist data protection policies that better serve African Americans.

The PPPM Awards recognize leading privacy scholarship that is relevant to policymakers in the U.S. Congress, at federal agencies and for international data protection authorities. Six winning papers, one honorable mention, a student submission and a student honorable mention were selected by a diverse group of leading academics, advocates and industry privacy professionals from Future of Privacy Forum’s Advisory Board.

A graduate of Harvard Law with a PhD in philosophy from the University of Michigan, Allen is internationally renowned as an expert on philosophical dimensions of privacy and data protection law, ethics, bioethics, legal philosophy, women’s rights, and diversity in higher education. She has been named among the world’s top 20 philosophers by Academic Influence and is a recipient of The Hastings Center’s 2022 Bioethics Founders’ Award.

Allen was president of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association (APA) from 2018 to 2019, the first African American woman in history to be so named. In 2021, she was awarded APA’s highest honor, the Philip L. Quinn Prize; she also received the 2022 Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Privacy Award.

Allen is an elected member of the American Law Institute, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Medicine and is a former member of the National Academies’ Forum on Cyber Resilience. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of The Hastings Center.

She served under President Barack Obama as a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. For two years she was on the institutional review board of the National Institutes of Health’s Precision Medicine Initiative and the National Advisory Council on Human Genome Research. She was chair of the board of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, D.C., from 2020 to 2022; in 2014 she received a lifetime achievement award from EPIC for her pioneering privacy scholarship and advocacy, and for the same accomplishment she was awarded honorary doctorates from Tilburg University in the Netherlands and the College of Wooster in the United States. She has been recognized by the Alaine Locke Society and the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers.

Allen is co-author of Privacy Law and Society (2016), a comprehensive textbook in the field. Her other books about data protection, values, and contemporary life include Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide (2011); The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape (2004), Why Privacy Isn’t Everything (2003), and Uneasy Access: Privacy for Women in a Free Society (1988).

At Penn, Allen is a faculty affiliate of the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, the Africana Studies Department, the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL), the Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition (CTIC), and the Warren Center for Network and Data Sciences.

Read more about Allen’s paper and other outstanding Penn Carey Law faculty research and scholarship in the 2022 edition of Advances in Research.