Tuesday, November 23, 2004
from Jerry Berman and CDT
He will be remembered as someone who worked over the last 25 years
to promote privacy and civil liberties values in the age of computer
data bases and the revolutionary development of new communications
technologies and the Internet.
Going back to his work with the Privacy Protection Study Commission
in the mid 1970's, Ron Plesser educated all of us about threats to
privacy in the computer age but also the social value of new
technologies in our life. He thus saw the need to find policy
solutions that both recognized the value of computer technology in
government and commerce but also established privacy and civil
liberties protections for citizens and consumers .
It is almost impossible to think of landmark privacy statutes over
the last 25 years that could have been enacted without Ron Plesser's
efforts to find workable solutions that balanced competing interests
to make legislation possible.
Statutes establishing privacy for cable subscriber information,
email and cell phones, and video rental records all have his stamp.
Plesser's legacy is not limited to privacy. He helped to craft the
modern Freedom of Information Act and then to update it to give
citizens access to electronic public information.
Plesser was the expert at the table. He knew the law, the
technology, the players, the threads that had to be weaved together
to build consensus and make privacy and technology policy happen.
We, who worked with him on technology policy and legislation
respected him, loved him dearly, and will miss him beyond words.
Center for Democracy and Technology