About Us

Mission and Vision Statement

The World Privacy Forum is dedicated to reimagining privacy in a digital era through groundbreaking, in-depth privacy research, analysis, and consumer education of the highest quality. Our vision is to empower people with the knowledge, rights, and tools they need to protect their privacy and shape their digital lives.

About the World Privacy Forum

The World Privacy Forum is a nonprofit, non-partisan 501(C)(3) public interest research group. The organization is focused on conducting in-depth research, analysis, and consumer education in the area of privacy. It is the only privacy-focused public interest research group conducting independent, original, longitudinal work. The World Privacy Forum has had notable successes with its research, which has been groundbreaking and consistently ahead of trends. World Privacy Forum reports have documented important new areas, including medical identity theft. Areas of focus for the World Privacy Forum include technology, health care, large data sets, workplace, and the financial sector. The Forum was founded in 2003 and works both nationally and internationally. The Forum also works to encourage collaborative efforts among other non-profits.

Funding

The World Privacy Forum is funded by the Rose Foundation Consumer Privacy Rights Fund, the California Consumer Protection Foundation, by Cy Pres privacy settlements, general support funding from corporations, and by individual donations.

World Privacy Forum Activities

A brief selection of our past activities includes:

  • WPF is a leading researcher about the data broker industry. We have published a report about the issue, and have testified before Congress about privacy and data brokers now three times, most recently in December, 2013, before the Senate.
  • WPF was the lead drafter of the US Department of Commerce NTIA Multistakeholder Process short form privacy notice during 2012-2013. The process finished with a completed short form notice to be used by mobile apps. The notice is now being tested and implemented. This notice provides important and innovative privacy improvements. Among the most important is that consumers receive notification when their information is being sent off of their mobile devices to data brokers. This is the first notice to allow for this transparency.
  • The World Privacy Forum researched and published the first major report on medical identity theft and brought this crime to the attention of the public for the first time. The World Privacy Forum coined the term “medical identity theft” in its report on the topic. The Forum also has published the only detailed consumer education and victim materials on this crime. California passed a new law that went into effect in 2008 based on the recommendations in the WPF medical identity theft report. The World Privacy Forum’s continuing activities in this area have made a substantial impact in the awareness and understanding of this crime for both victims and health care providers.
  • The World Privacy Forum led a consensus group of non-profits in a fall 2007 meeting that culminated in the now well-known Do Not Track proposal presented to the Federal Trade Commission. Do Not Track is an idea that is now known globally and being tested and discussed in a variety of forums, including W3C.
  • WPF spent months in India researching privacy and biometric ID cards and other privacy issues there. Five groundbreaking videos from that research have been produced, as well as an op-ed in Foreign Policy Magazine in 2013.
  • WPF broke new ground in publishing the first report on privacy in digital signage networks and mobile device tracking in retail spaces in the One Way Mirror Society report. The report was easily two to three years ahead of trends.
  • In 2011, WPF led the nation’s leading civil society groups in developing the Civil Society Multistakeholder Principles for the White House/US Department of Commerce Privacy process.
  • In 2012, WPF published an interactive map documenting health information data flows for California. This map was the first of its kind, and has been updated and the information expanded.
  • The World Privacy Forum published the first in-depth legal and policy analysis of patient and consumer medical files held outside the protections of HIPAA, an area of increasing importance.
  • The World Privacy Forum has researched and presented leading-edge thinking about genetic privacy to the Institute of Medicine and to the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society, among others. WPF’s most recent testimony before the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics in winter 2008 led to substantive positive changes in recommendations about privacy and genetics in the SACGHS report.
  • The World Privacy Forum has been appointed by the state of California to a board tasked with finding innovative ways to protect patient privacy and security in the rapidly modernizing health care sector. The World Privacy Forum serves as co-chair for this board, the California Privacy and Security Advisory Board.
  • The World Privacy Forum researched and testified twice about the iPledge program in 2007. iPledge is a mandatory registration system for people who take the acne drug Accutane, which had systemic privacy issues. The WPF was the only organization to point out the profound privacy problems in the system. After the World Privacy Forum analysis and testimony, the FDA asked for substantive changes to the privacy for the system, which impacts approximately 300,000 people a year.
  • The World Privacy Forum researched and published a series of longitudinal research reports and related work in the area of job search privacy, which has led to significant changes and improvements in the oversight of fraud at online job sites.
  • The World Privacy Forum publishes key consumer education resources, including the Top Ten Opt Out list, Search Engine Privacy Tips, Resume Privacy Tips, Tips for Victims of Medical Identity Theft, tips on Security Freezes, and much more.
  • The World Privacy Forum published a series of research reports on free credit reports that led to FTC enforcement actions against “imposter domains.”

Bios

Pam Dixon, Executive Director

Pam Dixon founded the World Privacy Forum in November 2003. An author and a researcher, she has consistently broken critical new ground in her work. She has written highly respected and influential studies in the area of privacy; she researched and wrote the first report to exist on medical identity theft (May 2006), identifying and bringing that topic to the public for the first time. Medical identity theft is now a widely acknowledged issue. In 2008, a California law was passed based on Dixon’s research. She has written other influential studies in the area of workplace and job search privacy as well as financial privacy and Internet privacy. Dixon is the co-chair of the California Privacy and Security Advisory Board, a board that reports to California’s Secretary of Health. She is also a board member of HITSP, a national-level board for determining health information technology standards. In 2008, Dixon won the Consumer Excellence Award.

Dixon was formerly a research fellow with the Privacy Foundation at Denver University’s Sturm School of Law. There, she researched and wrote about technology-related privacy issues. Dixon has written extensively about technology both as a book author and as a former columnist for the San Diego Union Tribune. Ms. Dixon has written eight books for major publishers, including two critically acclaimed books about technology and consumers. Her books include titles for Random House / Times Books, among other major publishers. Dixon’s most recent book is Online Privacy, published in fall 2011 and co-authored with longtime writing collaborator Robert Gellman. Dixon’s first book was a finalist for the Computer Press Awards. Her book on distance education is a classic and is used in college classrooms today. Dixon has testified before Congress and Federal agencies, and is frequently quoted in the media regarding privacy and security issues. A selection of her press clippings are located here.

Marianne Fitzpatrick, MBA, Senior Project Manager

Marianne joins the World Privacy Forum in the position of Senior Project Manager. Her responsibilities include performing project management activities to ensure strategic objectives are achieved in a timely manner and accurately for the Forum. Marianne is an MBA-degreed professional with managerial experience most recently at JP Morgan Chase supporting the Bank’s attorneys through Program Management activities such as:

  • Chair, Weekly Operational Breaks Resolution Meetings with Legal, Senior Operations Managers, Audit and Compliance as well as other delegates from around the world.
  • Led Semi Annual Unit Response to Corporate Audit and Compliance for Sarbanes Oxley (SOX).
    Change Management Unit Lead.
  • Led Executive Complaints Resolution for items in a litigation status with the Bank, for example, Congressional, Office of Consumer Complaints.
  • Policy and Procedure Subject Matter Expert (22 Unit Process Documentation Kits).
  • Led Litigation projects such as Uniform Data Business Analytics, Washington Mutual Litigation Account conversion, Thin Client Conversion, Business Continuity Plan Development and more.

While at Chase, Marianne was selected as the 2009 Chase Portrait Honoree for outstanding demonstration of core values. She also received Multiple Top-Performer Awards and Honors and the Unit Scorecard was an Exceeds rating during her time at Chase.

Bob Gellman, Consultant

Bob has been a key author and collaborator on many WPF reports and projects. He is the co-author with Pam Dixon of the reference book Online Privacy (ABC-CLIO, 2011). Since 1995, Bob has assisted large and small companies, organizations, U.S. government agencies, and foreign governments to develop, implement, and maintain policies for personal privacy and fair information practices. Specialty areas include privacy policy for health (including HIPAA), the Internet and Internet websites, the homeless (HMIS), and other for-profit and non-profit organizations; freedom of information policy, and other information policy areas. Bob’s full bio and extensive writing can be found here at BobGellman.com.

Blake Hamilton, Media and Communications Fellow

Blake Hamilton is a photojournalist and investigative reporter. Blake’s experience includes work at the University of Oregon’s Daily Emerald Newspaper and his international portfolio includes an outstanding short documentary on the Chilean Salmon Farming Industry. Other photography work includes contributions to Ethos Magazine, a student-run quarterly magazine, at the University of Oregon, where he also worked as a photo editor. In this position, Blake established an online version of the magazine. The website recently won the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s Collegiate Digital Magazine Silver Crown. Blake has lived in Argentina and Chile, is fluent in Spanish, and lives in San Diego, California.

John Emerson, Consultant: Web and Data Visualization 

John Emerson of Backspace Design Consultancy has created many WPF data visualizations, including our interactive Medical ID Theft Data map and our HIE map. He did a beautifully conceived and complete redesign of the decade-old static WPF web site and migrated us to a dynamic site.

 

News, Media, and Press Room:

Visit the News, Media and Press Room 

See a list of WPF press mentions over the history of the organization.