Timothy Edgar

Lecturer on Law

Spring 2020

Langdell Library 327

617-998-1318

Assistant: Carol Bateson / 617-495-2917

Biography

Timothy H. Edgar is a former national security and intelligence official, cybersecurity expert, privacy lawyer and civil liberties activist. Edgar joined the American Civil Liberties Union shortly before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He left the ACLU to try to make a difference by going inside America’s growing surveillance state – a story he tells in Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance and the Struggle to Reform the NSA, winner of the 2018 Chicago-Kent College of Law/Roy C. Palmer Civil Liberties Prize.

In 2006, Edgar became the intelligence community’s first deputy for civil liberties, advising the director of national intelligence during the George W. Bush administration. In 2009, after President Barack Obama announced the creation of a new National Security Council position “specifically dedicated to safeguarding the privacy and civil liberties of the American people,” Edgar moved to the White House, where he advised Obama on privacy issues in cybersecurity policy.

In 2013, Edgar left government for Brown University to help launch its professional cybersecurity degree program and he is now a senior fellow at Brown’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Edgar also works to help companies navigate cybersecurity problems and is on the advisory board of Virtru, which offers simple encryption software for businesses and individuals.

Edgar is a contributing editor to “Lawfare: Hard National Security Choices,” published in partnership with the Brookings Institution. Edgar has been profiled by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and his work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Foreign Affairs, and Wired. Edgar was a law clerk to Judge Sandra Lynch, United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Dartmouth College.

Areas of Interest

Sandra Hodgkinson, Clark Walton & Timothy H. Edgar, Considerations for Government Lawyers, in The ABA Cybersecurity Handbook: A Resource for Attorneys, Law Firms, and Business Professionals 245 (Jill D. Rhodes & Robert S. Litt eds., 2d ed. 2018).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Technology & Law
,
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
National Security Law
,
Legal Services
,
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Book
Timothy H. Edgar, Obama’s Mixed Legacy on Cybersecurity, Surveillance, and Surveillance Reform, in The Cambridge Handbook of Surveillance Law 248 (David Gray & Stephen E. Henderson eds., 2017).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Executive Office
,
National Security Law
,
Cyberlaw
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Networked Society
Type: Book
Timothy H. Edgar, Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance and the Struggle to Reform the NSA (2017).
Categories:
Government & Politics
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
National Security Law
,
Information Privacy & Security
,
Cyberlaw
,
Networked Society
,
Communications Law
Type: Book
Abstract
America’s mass surveillance programs, once secret, can no longer be ignored. While Edward Snowden began the process in 2013 with his leaks of top secret documents, the Obama administration’s own reforms have also helped bring the National Security Agency and its programs of signals intelligence collection out of the shadows. The real question is: What should we do about mass surveillance? Timothy Edgar, a long-time civil liberties activist who worked inside the intelligence community for six years during the Bush and Obama administrations, believes that the NSA’s programs are profound threat to the privacy of everyone in the world. At the same time, he argues that mass surveillance programs can be made consistent with democratic values, if we make the hard choices needed to bring transparency, accountability, privacy, and human rights protections into complex programs of intelligence collection. Although the NSA and other agencies already comply with rules intended to prevent them from spying on Americans, Edgar argues that the rules—most of which date from the 1970s—are inadequate for this century. Reforms adopted during the Obama administration are a good first step but, in his view, do not go nearly far enough. Edgar argues that our communications today—and the national security threats we face—are both global and digital. In the twenty first century, the only way to protect our privacy as Americans is to do a better job of protecting everyone’s privacy. Beyond Surveillance: Privacy, Mass Surveillance, and the Struggle to Reform the NSA explains both why and how we can do this, without sacrificing the vital intelligence capabilities we need to keep ourselves and our allies safe. If we do, we set a positive example for other nations that must confront challenges like terrorism while preserving human rights. The United States already leads the world in mass surveillance. It can lead the world in mass surveillance reform.

Education History

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Langdell Library 327

617-998-1318

Assistant: Carol Bateson / 617-495-2917