The growing threat to the privacy of American citizens resulting from the government’s efforts to combat terrorism will be the focus of a talk at NJIT set for Sept. 17, 2008 from 3-4:30 p.m. at NJIT’s Campus Center. Author and The Washington Post financial reporter Robert O’Harrow, Jr., will offer a critical look on surveillance and national security in the post-9/11 world. O’Harrow is the author of No Place to Hide: Behind the Scenes of Our Emerging Surveillance Society, published in 2005.
O'Harrow’s presentation is the first in NJIT’s annual Technology and Society Forum series.
The collection of wide-ranging data about American citizens was already emerging as a serious challenge to personal privacy when terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001. After the attack, organizations such as data brokers, banks and retailers willingly teamed up with the government to use this vast store of information to prevent further terrorism. People were told that doing so was for their own safety. Yet some individuals contend that the potential misuse of this data poses a grave danger to national values, including fundamental civil liberties and checks on government power.
As a reporter on the financial desk of The Washington Post, O’Harrow has focused on government contracting, waste and abuse. His stories have looked at the use of personal information spurring changes in state and federal law. His research interests include exploring the interaction between the intelligence community and the commercial world as well as the data revolution.
In 2006, O’Harrow and his reporting partner, Scott Higham, won the top award from Investigative Reporters and Editors for a series about contracting fraud and waste. In 2003, O’Harrow received the Carnegie Mellon Cybersecurity Award and in 2000, he was named a Pulitzer finalist for a series he wrote about privacy and technology. In 1999 he was named a finalist in the Gerald Loeb awards for business reporting.