JCU Welcomes Privacy Icon Simon Davies, the Man Who Stood Up to Google and Facebook

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Simon Davies (left) and JCU Professor Daniele Pica

Simon Davies (left) and JCU Professor Daniele Pica

On February 25 and 27 John Cabot University hosted Simon Davies, privacy advocate and founder of Privacy International. Davies is considered one of the world experts on Internet privacy and data protection. In his 25-year career as a privacy advocate he has led campaigns and research initiatives worldwide and is often described as the world’s most frequently quoted privacy advocate.

The lectures were sponsored by the Office of the President and the JCU Department of Business Administration.

In his first lecture Davies spoke to JCU students, faculty, and staff about his successful campaigns against national identity cards in Australia and Great Britain. He said, “Identity is a precious personal thing and you do not want the government controlling it.” He also captivated the audience with anecdotes of his work as a troublemaker against media superpowers like Google and Facebook.

On Thursday Davies got more specific, going into the NSA/Snowden scandal. He told listeners that 95 percent of our daily routines are under surveillance and encouraged them to take a personal vow to protect their identity. He recommended using encrypted email systems, using simple cell phones rather than smartphones, and always being wary of disclosing precious personal data.

Davies urged everyone to be concerned, even those who are convinced they have nothing to hide: “You should be interested because you are thinking people. People in this room are going to run this planet and change future landscapes. Think about the most influential and important people in history: they would not have wanted everyone to know details of where they’ve been and what they’ve done.”

Simon Davies now writes for his Privacy Surgeon blog where he puts on-line accountability to the test. He also teaches in various European universities, including the London School of Economics and The University of Amsterdam.