Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Timothy Edgar

Timothy Edgar

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Timothy Edgar

Senior Fellow in International and Public Affairs


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, and spent five years fighting in Congress against abuses in the “war on terror.”  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

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 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 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, and he is a contributing editor to “Lawfare: Hard National Security Choices.” 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.

News|Recent News

A big party for a small satellite (comments by Timothy Edgar)

September 24, 2018 Pacific Standard

Senior Fellow Timothy Edgar provided commentary on the future of satellites and surveillance. "You study what cars are parked in the parking lot; that can reveal an enormous amount of information. It's used to plan military attacks. It could be used for corporate espionage."


Brett Kavanaugh's Internet (written by Timothy Edgar)

September 10, 2018 Lawfare Blog

Senior Fellow Timothy Edgar in Lawfare Blog, "While the digital age is well underway, the justices have only begun to grapple with its implications—for privacy, freedom of speech, and new forms of digital control.  Kavanaugh’s vote will be for an internet based not on openness and freedom, but on surveillance and control."


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