About Us

What is Privacy Lab?

Yale Privacy Lab is an initiative of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.  We explore the connection between privacy, security, and anonymity through hands-on software and hardware implementation, such as cybersecurity workshops.  As the technical arm of the Information Society Project, we are quickly becoming an intellectual resource for projects around campus, strengthening the networks between technologists, lawyers, students, and researchers.

Why does Yale need a Privacy Lab?

The Yale community is increasingly concerned about digital privacy and security, an arena that requires interdisciplinary collaboration. Yale Privacy Lab is a nexus for training and discussions about these contemporary issues, as well as a resource for cryptographic and anonymity tools.  Yale Law School, and the YLS Clinics in particular, need a central resource to consult for technological expertise in the swiftly-changing digital privacy landscape.

What can Privacy Lab do for you?

We provide informal cybersecurity advice and recommendations, as well as detailed trainings in the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). Yale Privacy Lab is committed to fostering software, hardware, and spectrum freedom: digital freedom is essential for the creation, implementation, and improvement of secure and privacy-respecting technology.  Transparency in the design, development, and operation of technology is a requirement for users of that technology to preserve and expand their digital freedom.  This is perhaps nowhere more relevant than in the realm of cybersecurity.

Who runs Privacy Lab?

Yale Privacy Lab is currently a volunteer effort driven by Lab Director Sean O’Brien and Lab Coordinator Michael Kwet.  At its core are Privacy Trainers, secure contacts who help facilitate workshop sessions and troubleshoot private communication issues.  The Information Society Project provides support and resources.  Please contact us via the information in our directory.

What is “Privacy”, anyway?

Yale Privacy Lab has no strict definition of privacy.  We endorse the three-part description put forth by Eben Moglen ’85JD, ’93PhD, founder of the Software Freedom Law Center:

Privacy — as we use the word in our conversations now all around the world, and particularly when we talk about the net — really means three things.

The first is secrecy, which is our ability to keep messages “private” so that their content is known only to those who we intend to receive them.

The second is anonymity, which is our ability to keep our messages — even when their content is open — obscure as to who has published them and who is receiving them. It is very important that anonymity is an interest we can have in both our publishing and our reading.

The third is autonomy, which is our ability to make our life decisions free of any force which has violated our secrecy or our anonymity.

These three are the principle components of the mixture that we call “privacy”. With respect to each, further consideration shows that it is a precondition to the order that we call “democracy”, “ordered liberty”, “self-government”, to the particular scheme that we call in the United States “constitutional freedom”.

Snowden and the Future, Part II: Oh, Freedom