‘Inside UVA’: This Peerless Expert Is Leading the Charge for Online Privacy

December 14, 2023 By Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu Jane Kelly, jak4g@virginia.edu

Audio: ‘Inside UVA’: This Peerless Expert is Leading the Charge for Online Privacy (31:44)

President Ryan’s final guest of 2023 is renowned online privacy expert Danielle Citron of UVA Law.


If you are not acquainted with Danielle Citron’s groundbreaking scholarship, here is your chance to learn more.

A 2019 MacArthur Fellow, aka “Genius Grant” winner, and adored teacher at the University of Virginia’s School of Law, you’d be hard-pressed to read an article in any major news outlet about deepfakes and online privacy that does not quote her. She’s been interviewed by The Guardian, NPR and Slate, to name a few.

Appearing on “Inside UVA,” Citron is UVA President Jim Ryan’s final podcast guest of 2023.

In her newest book, “The Fight for Privacy: Protecting Dignity, Identity and Love in the Digital Age,” the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Schenck Distinguished Professor of Law makes the case that intimate privacy is a human right. The issue cuts straight to the one of society’s growing, invasive phenomena: revenge porn.

“Deepfakery right now is a problem of intimate privacy,” she told Ryan. “It is morphing women’s faces into porn, stealing their identities, coercing sexual expression, and giving them an identity that they did not choose.”

She told Ryan, “We share our innermost thoughts, we don’t realize, all day long, as we click, we share, we read, we browse, we text.”

In so doing, that private information now resides in our phones, our apps and our search and browsing histories, where companies can harvest it. Not only are companies using that data to target consumers with personalized advertisements, Citron said, there are data brokers who collect and sell users’ information to hiring agencies and insurance companies, for example. 

She offered Ryan a hypothetical. If she were to search for diseases that cause dizziness or high blood pressure, “health data brokers sell that information to health insurance companies to figure out our premiums.”

The possibilities, she said, are seemingly endless.

“It is the trafficking of data, and the intimacy of the data, the way that impacts our life opportunities, that troubles me, that requires protection,” she said. 

To hear Citron’s legal solutions to this growing dilemma, listen to “Inside UVA,” which is streamed on most podcast apps, including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts. Perhaps the data collectors will then realize you are onto them.

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Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications