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Washington state has named its first Chief Privacy Officer. And for many in tech, it’s a familiar name: former RealNetworks and Starwave exec Alex Alben.

Alben headshot
Alex Alben (image:

In announcing the new position, Washington Governor Jay Inslee said, “With new technologies that increasingly impact consumer privacy, protection of privacy must be a core value for our state government. We want to be a leader in this field, to improve the security protecting the data the state collects while also building upon our strong tradition of transparency and open government.”

The Chief Privacy Officer role, inside the state’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, will be responsible for examining privacy policies across state agencies with an eye toward strengthening protections for personal data.

According to Inslee, Washington is one of the first states to have a Chief Privacy Officer position.

Alben, an attorney, negotiated music industry deals and testified in front of Congress when he was part of RealNetworks, and was general counsel for Paul Allen-backed Starwave Corporation. More recently, he authored the bookAnalog Days—How Technology Rewrote Our Future.

Alben on Twitter
Alben on Twitter

“As technology evolves in the world of big data and cloud computing, privacy policy will only become more complex,” Alben said. “We need to balance the rights of individuals, First Amendment concerns, our state’s public disclosure requirements and the needs of law enforcement.”

Alben apparently has been getting a head start on privacy: Tweets from what appears to be his personal Twitter account, @Alex98040, are protected, so are not visible to non-followers.

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