Center for Social & Legal Research

Organization and Purpose

The Center for Social & Legal Research was organized in 1987 as a private, non-profit association of university scholars and social science researchers. Its purpose is to design, conduct and publish fieldwork-oriented studies of major social and legal issues facing the United States and other advanced industrial democracies. As it has evolved, the Center has also become a public policy think tank, studying the rising issues of consumer privacy and data protection both online and off in a new technological era.

The Center's Founder and President

The Center was organized by Dr. Alan F. Westin, Professor Emeritus of Public Law and Government at Columbia University where he taught from 1959-1997. Dr. Westin, a lawyer, political scientist and internationally recognized privacy expert, is the author and editor of 26 books.

The Center's Board of Directors

The Center's Board is composed of leading scholars and lawyers whose work has focused on the empirical analysis of social and legal policy issues.


Lorrie Sherwood

Irene Oujo

Olga Garey

Christie Lawrence
Michele Mason

Hillary Sherwood

Kevin Coy
Richard C. Goh
Vivian van Gelder
John Haley
Lyle H. Himmel

Research Assistants
The Center has an on-going program for interns and research assistants drawn from major colleges and universities to assist in its various projects.

Mike McDonald
Eliota Pervizi

Activities of the Center

The Center is a non-profit umbrella organization, a public policy think tank which supports a number of activities that further its mission. Among those activities are:

Privacy & American Business Newsletter and Information Service

Since its founding in 1993, P&AB has become the most authoritative and effective national voice for a balanced approach to consumer privacy issues. As the sponsor of empirical studies, important national surveys, a bi-monthly national report and an annual national Washington conference on "Managing the Privacy Revolution," P&AB regularly influences government regulators, legislators and interest groups. P&AB publications are extensively quoted and used in federal and state regulatory proceedings, legislative hearings, government task forces on information privacy issues and major academic conferences and publications. P&AB has a reputation for providing a balanced, credible perspective, which is why virtually all the industry and general media seek P&AB's comments when covering business privacy issues. P&AB is the only national voice that reflects a business-friendly philosophy balanced by consumer privacy sensitivities.

Privacy & American Business, a national newsletter and computer-based information service, covers consumer, employee, health, communications and media privacy issues, and international privacy developments affecting American business operating abroad. Since its award-winning first issue, P&AB has become the most quoted and respected publication and information service internationally. The publication and service was launched with founding grants from Citicorp, American Express and Equifax Inc. and continues with sustaining grants from 50-60 major forward-thinking corporations and industry associations.

P&AB Annual National Conference and Pre-Conference Workshop

Since 1993, the P&AB annual conferences bring together national and international government, business, academic and data protection leading experts to discuss and debate timely privacy issues at home, abroad, online and across industry sectors. The only privacy conference of its kind, it features a hands-on Pre-Conference tutorial workshop which focuses on key areas in privacy policy-making, such as developments in the online world and global privacy issues. Last yearıs Sixth Annual Conference, "Consumer Privacy in the Next Decade: New Trends, Forces and Directions," was called the most important conference of its kind globally. This year, the Seventh Annual Conference is set for November 28-30 at the Washington Court Hotel.

The Distinguished Privacy Leadership Award

Beginning in 1998, P&AB has awarded a Distinguished Privacy Leadership Award at its National Conferences to an individual who has made an important impact in the privacy arena. Ira Magaziner, the Special Advisor to President Clinton, was the first recipient of this award. In 1999 Secretary of Commerce William Daly received the award. Each received the award in person and commented favorably on the ongoing work of Privacy & American Business. In 2000 President Clinton's Counsel for Privacy, Peter Suirie, will be the recipient.

The Japan-U.S. Privacy Project

Directed by Dr. Westin in 1999, the Japan-U.S. Privacy and Data Protection Program compares the legal, political, economic and social treatment of privacy and data protection in Japan with the approaches in the U.S. and in Europe. Dr. Westin has followed Japanese privacy developments since 1980 through speaking engagements in Japan and meetings with Japanese government, business, technology and academic leaders. The study will include the creation of a Japanese Privacy Mark System by the Japan Information Processing Development Center (JIPDEC) as well as analyze privacy issues and trends in Japan. The Japan-U.S. Program is conducting a representative national survey of the Japanese public on privacy issues and has Focus Groups with Japanese consumers. The Program will also develop a timely and comprehensive "Japan Privacy Developments" department on Two leading experts on privacy and data protection in Japan and Asia ­ Professor Masao Horibe of Chuo University Law School and Russell Pipe, Deputy Director of the Global Information Infrastructure Commission ­ are also involved with the Japan-U.S. Program.

Corporate Privacy Leadership Program

Todayıs managers need to prepare themselves and their organizations to move proactively on privacy issues, as well as to comply expertly with current and impending national and state regulations. CPLP supplies a coherent set of activities and resources to help companies create and operate effective consumer privacy policies. CPLP is a unique combination of a Washington Briefing, a Peer Workshop, a national conference, special surveys and confidential trend reports. These activities allow companies to implement and manage privacy policies that work well, can win strong approval from customers and the media and help strengthen their competitive edge.

Corporate Privacy Officer Program 2000

With new government regulations sparked by consumer concerns, companies are addressing privacy by appointing a corporate privacy officer to bring together and coordinate all aspects of their operations that have privacy implications. P&AB CPO 2000 provides support, information workshops and guidance in a yearlong sustained program.

Association of Corporate Privacy Officers

As an outgrowth of CPO 2000, P&AB has established an Independent Association of Corporate Privacy Officers (ACPO) incorporated in NJ as a non-profit professional organization. The ACPO provides a credentials program, professional development and recognition activities, salary benchmarking and comparisons of where in corporate structures the CPO is positioned. The non-profit association has on its Organizing Committee privacy leaders from the business community.

P&AB's Institutional Web Site

P&AB has been online since the fall of 1996. The P&AB web site features an archive of business privacy information including model policies; analysis of legislation; excerpts from recent P&AB articles; and publications highlighting privacy issues of interest to business and media. Activities and upcoming events are also posted on the web site.

Privacy Issues in the Use of Genetic Tests and Therapies

Beginning with an 18-month research project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Human Genome Project, and its ELSI unit (Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues), the Center has pursued an interest in exploring the ethical questions and privacy issues raised by new genetic technologies and the governmentıs Human Genome Project. Directed by Dr. Alan Westin, the research study assembled and analyzed all the social science studies on the functions of individuals, groups and institutions in democratic society since the publication of Westinıs book, Privacy and Freedom, in 1967 and applied the concepts and empirical findings to emerging applications of the federally-funded Human Genome Project. A group of 7 senior experts and 7 junior scholars were involved in the project, whose report was finished in June 1994. In August 1996, The Center embarked on a study of public attitudes toward genetic testing and privacy issues in the insurance industry, which was underwritten by a grant from State Farm Insurance Companies. The project will be completed in December 1999 and will include both a major survey and conference with contributing papers submitted and discussed.

Surveys and Studies

In addition to the studies the Center has carried forward on genetics, it has also conducted and commissioned timely surveys on consumer privacy attitudes, interactive services survey and other studies that define the privacy issues of the 1990's. The P&AB surveys and studies explore attitudes and concerns of business, government and consumers raised by new technologies and an Internet world without boundaries. The President of the United States has requested permission to use P&AB data in the first national Presidential report on privacy. In 1997, Privacy & American Business conducted the survey, "Commerce, Communication, and Privacy Online," the first national survey exploring online experiences, concerns and attitudes of the then 42 million Netizens toward information use and privacy. P&AB's latest survey, "Personalized Marketing and Privacy on the Net: What Consumers Want," marks the fourth time since 1997 that P&AB took the pulse of U.S. Internet users. In June 1998 P&AB followed up with "E-Commerce and Privacy: What Net Users Want." In November 1998 the findings of "Privacy Concerns and Consumer Choice" were released. And in July 1999, the results of "Freebies and Privacy: What Net Users Think" appeared on the front pages of all the major popular and trade press and were featured in the electronic media. Each of these surveys consistently broke new ground in analyzing the privacy preferences of consumers. Dr. Alan Westin was the academic advisor and expert for all of these surveys and presented the findings of the 1997 and June 1998 surveys at the FTC Privacy Workshops in those years to help frame the issues and amplify their discussions. He presented the latest "Personalized Marketing" survey commissioned by P&AB on November 8, 1999 at another important FTC "Workshop on Consumer Profiling."

The Model Contracts Projects

In December 1997, a working group of 17 companies and industry associations from P&AB's Global Business Privacy Project met in Washington D.C. to explore avenues of addressing the implementation of the EU Directive and the Clinton administrationıs emphasis on self-regulatory approaches. That meeting became the organizational impetus for the "Models Project." High-level representatives from the U.S. Department of Commerce expressed strong support for the project. A consensus was made at that meeting to develop Model Contracts that could be customized and presented by any U.S. multinational to each EU nation, authorizing that company to transfer personally-identified customer or personnel data from that nation to the U.S. for processing. The 1999 Model Contracts Project produced an EU-compliant contract customizable for use by organizations in: pharmaceuticals; customer databases and direct marketing; insurance; personnel & Human Resources; financial services & credit; travel & reservation systems; telecommunications; information systems; Internet commerce; and others. In 2000, P&AB will develop a "Safe Harbor" compliant contract.

Human Resources Data Consortium

Privacy & American Business is leading the formation of a Consortium of HR data professionals, corporate counsels, HR software developers and vendors, associations and other stakeholders to address the growing challenges for HR systems and operations posed by new data protection requirements in Europe and around the world. The P&AB HR Data Consortium seeks to produce an HR Data White Paper and a new national employee opinion survey assessing the U.S. HR data privacy protections. It also seeks to develop self-regulatory measures and provide practical resources, informational services and the tools to help HR professionals understand and manage their operations within data protection laws. Over 70 leading U.S. companies and associations, including the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and the International Association for Human Resources Management (IHRIM), took part in full-day briefings where they encouraged the formation of an HR Data Consortium. A national conference on HR Data attracted more than 200 participants. A second conference is scheduled for Spring 2000 in response to demands.