yesIssie LapowskyNone
×

Get access to Protocol

I’ve already subscribed

Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

People

EPIC director leaves after backlash over handling of COVID-19 test

EPIC's staff told the board that Marc Rotenberg came to work and held meetings after his doctor directed him to take a test that later came back positive.

Marc Rotenberg

EPIC Executive Director Marc Rotenberg is leaving his position.

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center is leaving the organization, the chair of EPIC's board said in a statement Tuesday. The news comes after members of EPIC's staff told the board that their boss, Marc Rotenberg, came to work and held meetings after his doctor directed him to take a COVID-19 test that later came back positive. The allegations were first reported by Protocol last week.

In a statement posted to EPIC's website, board chair Anita Allen wrote that "the time has come for new leadership at EPIC."

"Marc has contributed tremendously as a scholar and advocate to a powerful global movement in support of privacy, freedom of expression and democratic values," Allen wrote. "He has helped shape EPIC's values-driven policy and advocacy related to the internet, artificial intelligence and government surveillance." Rotenberg has recently been an outspoken critic of invasive surveillance efforts to address the spread of COVID-19.

EPIC's general counsel, Alan Butler, was named interim executive director while the organization looks for a permanent replacement. Neither Allen nor Rotenberg immediately responded to requests for comment.

Last week, Protocol reported on the staff's concerns, citing interviews with several current and former employees, as well as internal documents and Rotenberg's own letter to the staff. According to the letter, Rotenberg's doctor instructed him to take a COVID-19 test on March 6, just before Rotenberg was set to take off on a flight to Miami for the weekend. Rotenberg, who said he had not been symptomatic, continued on his trip and took the test when he returned to Washington, D.C., the following Monday.

Rotenberg went to work that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, leaving the office as soon as he received a call telling him his test came back positive. But he didn't inform his employees of any of this until that Thursday, a day after EPIC's D.C.-based staff got a call from the public health authority informing them they were exposed to someone with the virus. Rotenberg later said in his letter that he had followed protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On March 20, EPIC employees wrote to the board, asking its members to take action.

Allen's statement on Tuesday didn't directly address the staff concerns or whether Rotenberg's departure was based on the board's decision. In an email obtained by Protocol that was sent to EPIC's board of advisers over the weekend, Allen wrote that the board had been working closely with Rotenberg and EPIC employees to address the issue since March 12. Allen also assured the board of advisers that EPIC was "financially sound."

"Rest assured that we are doing our jobs, and that Marc has, over the past six weeks, accountably provided the board with the detailed information we requested," Allen wrote in the email.

People

Expensify CEO David Barrett: ‘Most CEOs are not bad people, they're just cowards’

"Remember that one time when we almost had civil war? What did you do about it?"

Expensify CEO David Barrett has thoughts on what it means for tech CEOs to claim they act apolitically.

Photo: Expensify

The Trump presidency ends tomorrow. It's a political change in which Expensify founder and CEO David Barrett played a brief, but explosive role.

Barrett became famous last fall — or infamous, depending on whom you ask — for sending an email to the fintech startup's clients, urging them to reject Trump and support President-elect Joe Biden.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

People

Amazon’s head of Alexa Trust on how Big Tech should talk about data

Anne Toth, Amazon's director of Alexa Trust, explains what it takes to get people to feel comfortable using your product — and why that is work worth doing.

Anne Toth, Amazon's director of Alexa Trust, has been working on tech privacy for decades.

Photo: Amazon

Anne Toth has had a long career in the tech industry, thinking about privacy and security at companies like Yahoo, Google and Slack, working with the World Economic Forum and advising companies around Silicon Valley.

Last August she took on a new job as the director of Alexa Trust, leading a big team tackling a big question: How do you make people feel good using a product like Alexa, which is designed to be deeply ingrained in their lives? "Alexa in your home is probably the closest sort of consumer experience or manifestation of AI in your life," she said. That comes with data questions, privacy questions, ethical questions and lots more.

Keep Reading Show less
David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Politics

In 2020, COVID-19 derailed the privacy debate

From biometric monitoring to unregulated contact tracing, the crisis opened up new privacy vulnerabilities that regulators did little to address.

Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, says the COVID-19 pandemic has become a "cash grab" for surveillance tech companies.

Photo: Lianhao Qu/Unsplash

As the coronavirus began its inexorable spread across the United States last spring, Adam Schwartz, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, worried the virus would bring with it another scourge: mass surveillance.

"A lot of really bad ideas were being advanced here in the U.S. and a lot of really bad ideas were being actually implemented in foreign countries," Schwartz said.

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
People

The year our personal lives took center stage at work

2020's blurring of professional and personal boundaries exacerbated disparities, humanized leaders and put personal values front and center.

In 2020, the personal and the professional became inextricable at work.

Photo: Tom Werner/Getty Images

For those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs and privileged enough to be able to work from home, our whole selves were bared at work this year. Our homes and faces were blown up for virtual inspection. Our children's demands and crises filled our working hours, and our working mothers became schoolteachers and housewives, whether they wanted to or not. Our illnesses became vital public information, and our tragedies shared. Our work lives ate into our social lives until there was no boundary between them.

In 2020, the personal and the professional became inextricable at work. Remote work might be the most sexy 2020 trend, but for the CEOs and leaders I spoke with, the de-professionalization of work could be the most important effect on a personal level. It's the one that has caused the most harm to women in the workplace and destroyed work-life balance for basically everyone. It's also what has contributed to the majority of work-from-home Americans being more satisfied with their work lives than they were before, mostly because they feel more connected to their families, they're able to set their own schedules and they're more comfortable at home, according to a Morning Consult poll. While we can't know exactly how many and who will be going back to the office just yet, as long as there is some kind of flexible work schedule, people's personal lives will be part of their work lives and vice versa.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (@ anna_c_kramer), where she helps write and produce Source Code, Protocol's daily newsletter. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Protocol | Enterprise

How Christian Klein’s reboot of SAP’s strategy is working out

The pandemic wasn't kind to the company. But the way it's working with the major COVID-19 vaccine makers is a model for what comes next.

Christian Klein became SAP's sole CEO in April.

Photo: Picture Alliance/Getty Images

Christian Klein took over as SAP's sole CEO in April. It wasn't an ideal time to take the helm of an organization that sells expensive enterprise software.

As the spread of COVID-19 forced corporations everywhere to cut costs, one of the first places they looked was IT budgets. Specifically, companies around the world trimmed spending on back-end products, such as those offered by SAP, many of which still run via on-premise data centers.

Keep Reading Show less
Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Latest Stories