Anita Allen to Give Annual Weiss Lecture at Williams College

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, executive assistant; tele: 413-597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., April 25, 2018—Anita Allen, vice provost for faculty and the Henry R. Silverman professor of law and professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, will give the annual Weiss Lecture at Williams College on Wednesday, May 2. The talk will take place at 7 p.m. in Griffin Hall, room 3. It is free and open to the public.

In her lecture, titled “The Female Patient: Privacy, Risk, and Professional Ethics,” Allen will discuss cases of privacy abuses towards women by health professionals. She will explore why

our health privacy laws and professional ethics do not work better to deter breaches of physical and informational privacy. In addition, she will show how in societies whose cultures tolerate disrespect for women and treat women and girls as sex objects, egregious privacy abuses are a major risk of practices and procedures that give men control over women’s bodies. Ready access to technologies of data capture and sharing exacerbate the risk. Women are predictably subjected to serious privacy intrusions by individual health professionals for reasons that directly relate to social inequality. Proactively addressing known impact and compliance limitations of our law is an ethical requirement of true privacy.

A graduate of Harvard Law School with a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan, Allen is an expert on privacy and data protection law and ethics. She is an elected member of the American Law Institute and the National Academy of Medicine, and served under President Obama as a member of his National Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. Allen also has served on numerous U.S. editorial, advisory, and nonprofit boards, including the Association of American Law Schools, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, the Hastings Center, Planned Parenthood, and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. She served for two years on the Institutional Review Board of the NIH Precision Medicine Initiative and the board of directors of the WCG Foundation. In 2017 she was elected vice president and president-elect of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. In June 2014, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C., for her pioneering privacy scholarship and advocacy. Allen is co-author of Privacy Law and Society (2016), the most comprehensive textbook in the field. Allen’s other books about data protection, values and contemporary life include Unpopular Privacy: What Must We Hide (2011); The New Ethics: A Guided Tour of the 21st Century Moral Landscape (2004), and Why Privacy Isn’t Everything (2003). Allen, who has written more than 100 scholarly articles, has also contributed to popular magazines and blogs, and appeared on numerous television and radio programs. She has lectured on privacy in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

The Andrew B. Weiss, M.D., Lecture on Medicine and Medical Ethics memorializes the life and work of the late Andrew Weiss, Williams Class of 1961, an orthopedic surgeon. This lecture promotes discussion of health care, broadly conceived, including the economics of health care as well as biomedical/ethical issues. This event is hosted by the Oakley Center for Humanities and Social Sciences.


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications 413-597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at