Guest Profile: Privacy Journal’s Robert Ellis Smith

12417950_10153205424690997_4931112068934056570_nAs you may know, most of our guests appear via Skype or telephone and rarely do I actually meet them unless I knew them before hand or live nearby.

For example, on the left is a photo of me with frequent guest Dan Tynan at a Wikipedia birthday party in San Francisco.

Being from Rhode Island, I had hoped to meet with the “Privacy Paragon of Providence”, Privacy Journal publisher Robert Ellis Smith who has appeared on CLBR five (5) times and is one of our more fascinating guests.  Being from a large family, my trips back home were usually brief or too jammed with family activities to pull it off.

robert-ellis-smithLast week, I finally got the chance to meet Robert Ellis Smith (@rob_35) on a rainy fall day on Providence’s East Side and he lived up to expectations.  He is not just a fellow “Hoya Lawya” and Red Sox fan but a journalist, scholar, civil rights activist and monologist with stories about his encounters with Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro and even Buddy Cianci, the legendary Mayor of Providence.

It has been said that Robert has been in the privacy field “before the field was even defined.” “Privacy Journal” is one of the longest running newsletters in North America dating back to 1974.  He also has published numerous books on privacy, including Privacy: How to Protect What’s Left of It (1979) which was nominated for a  National Book Award.

Robert wrote for the Harvard Crimson and he famously posed as President Kennedy, fooling the crowd in a notorious stunt at the Harvard-Yale football game in 1961.

Robert began his career as journalist and was editor of the pro-civil rights Southern Courier in Montgomery, Alabama in 1965 which he called an Act of Patriotism.

From 1970 to 1973, Smith was the assistant director of the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

He has taught at Harvard College, University of Maryland, and Emerson College, Brown University and Roger Williams School of Law in Bristol, Rhode Island.

He also is active in writing about and preserving Block Island, the hidden gem of an island twelve miles off the coast of Rhode Island.

FYI – For the uninitiated, Block Island has been called “heaven on earth” by NBC News Anchor Brian Williams.  Below is a Good Morning America profile of the island.


Past Shows


Robert Ellis Smith

Return of the Privacy Paragon from Providence (Robert Ellis Smith)


Robert Ellis Smith

The Privacy Paragon from Providence: Robert Ellis Smith Returns to Discuss Privacy and Data Security


Robert Ellis Smith Addresses Mobile App Privacy


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BOOKS by Robert Ellis Smith

405753103Directory of Privacy Professionals [Kindle Edition]

The Magnetism of Islands [Kindle Edition]

Consumer’s Handheld Guide to Privacy Protections [Kindle Edition]

Block Island Trivia : quiz for a rainy day Paperback – July 1, 2008

Ben Franklin’s Web Site: Privacy and Curiosity from Plymouth Rock to the Internet Paperback – April 30, 2004

Compilation of State and Federal Privacy Laws Paperback – July 31, 2003

Our Vanishing Privacy: And What You Can Do to Protect Yours Paperback – May, 1993

The Law of Privacy Explained Paperback – January, 1993

War Stories: Accounts of Persons Victimized by Invasions of Privacy Paperback – July, 1990

Celebrities & Privacy Paperback – November, 1985

The Big Brother book of lists Paperback – 1984

Privacy, how to protect what’s left of it Hardcover – 1979