Publisher Robert Ellis Smith

Read about him
at the following link:

He is also an actor.
Click "Actor" at the top
of this page.

Listen to our publisher describe his experiences in Alabama at the time of "Selma" and his views on privacy today, including the President's initiative on privacy. The program is CyberLaw and Business Report with Bennet Kelley. Then comment here on our Web site.

For an account of our publisher's place in the development of privacy protection

Our 44th Year

PBS Digital Studios has produced a video presentation "Online Privacy: How Did We Get Here?" with PRIVACY JOURNAL Publisher Robert Ellis Smith, Helen Nissenbaum, media professor at New York University; and Julian Sanchez from the Cato Institute. It tersely and sharply traces the development of privacy in culture, technology, and law.

Be the First in Your Cubicle: Order a custom green Privacy Journal logo polo shirt, S, M, L, XL, $26.50.

Bennet Kelly's "Cyberlaw and Business Report" on Webmaster Radio. Listen now.

Need an expert witness on privacy?
Scroll below.
Smith is your man.

Most informative Web site on privacy

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The BEST place to start when you have a privacy problem is our 'Directory of Privacy Professionals.' We continually update it, with more than 600 names of the persons and groups you need to contact for answers and solutions. ORDER IT NOW in an electronic form you can store on your computer. Click on the title at the right.

The one thing that all the reviewers say about Smith's books:
"They are great reads."

To order a subscription to Privacy Journal newsletter, click on "To subscribe or to order a book" at the right of the screen. To order a book (add $4 per order for handling), click in the same place. Send us your credit card number, expiration date, name and delivery address, and the names of the publications you wish to order. Please include a phone number for our use if we need to talk to you about your credit-card order.

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We welcome telephone orders to 401/​274-7861 or fax orders to 401/​274-4747.

Privacy Policy

Find our privacy policy on the lower left side of the 'Newsletter' page

The First Publication in the World About Privacy

And Still the Most Engaging One

Publishing for Forty-Three Years

PRIVACY JOURNAL, founded in 1974, is the original publication on personal privacy. In more than four decades: Number of pages, 4042. Number of lifelong subscribers, 29. Number of libel lawsuits, none. Number of threatened suits, one. Number of invasion-of-privacy threats: none. Number of errors requiring correction, 43. Number of editors, one.


Before there was an internet, before there was email, before there was automated telemarketing, before there was Facebook, and before there were drones, there was Privacy Journal. Thus, it's the oldest publication on privacy in the world.

Each month since 1974, this acclaimed newsletter is always full of news on new technology and its impact on privacy, useful tips for protecting your privacy, and the latest on court decisions, legislation, professional conferences, and corporate practices.
It's a record unmatched in journalism, here or abroad.

Robert Ellis Smith (left), who is recognized as the leading expert on the right to privacy in the U.S., is the publisher. He is an experienced journalist, a lawyer, an author of several essential books on privacy. Twice he has been asked to write the definition of privacy for the World Book Encyclopedia.

Smith digs through reams of government documents, and he interviews all the important people who affect privacy policies; he's an enterprising journalist who insists on originality and accuracy in his stories. He makes this guarantee: Privacy Journal will keep you weeks ahead of the mainstream press in informing you of news that affects personal privacy. If you think we do not deliver on this commitment, we will refund your money.

Smith covers privacy in all of its aspects: the internet, credit reporting, medical records, computer security, unwanted telephone calls, electronic surveillance, access to an individual's own records, uses of ID documents, uses and abuses of Social Security numbers, the impact of European and Canadian practices on American citizens, biometric identification systems, social media, the common law of privacy, the constitutional right to privacy, and much more. No other expert is poised to provide such a well-rounded, assertive approach to the essential news on this essential subject.

Smith is the author of Ben Franklin's Web Site: Privacy and Curiosity From Plymouth Rock to the Internet, the acclaimed 407-page account of privacy throughout American history. We also publish a book describing all the state and privacy laws on the books, including those enacted this year.

His first book, Privacy: How to Protect What's Left of It, was nominated for the National Book Award in 1980.

A graduate of Harvard College and Georgetown University Law Center, Smith was a daily news reporter, weekly newspaper editor, and then assistant director of civil rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services before starting Privacy Journal in 1974.

He has taught at Harvard, Brown University, Emerson College, Roger Williams University Law School, and the University of Maryland.

Your choice: Hard copy of the newsletter by postal mail or electronic copy by email (or both for no extra charge). The price is $140 a year (with special discounted rates for individuals). Overseas price: US$165 a year.

LIMITED INCOME? If the newsletter is for your personal use, call or write us for a special discounted rate. * * *


Need to catch up in a hurry?

You need the acclaimed book
Ben Franklin's Web Site.
Click Books.


A one-year subscription to Privacy Journal is $140. Send us a credit card number and, in a separate message, send us the card expiration date. (Special discounted rates for individuals. Ask us.)

Call or write us. orders@​, 401/​274-7861.

Need an expert witness or consultant? Hire the best, Publisher Robert Ellis Smith. Scroll below.

Indexes are available. For ordering information, click "Newsletter" above and scroll down the left column.

Privacy Journal, which has a world-wide subscriber audience, is based in Providence RI. Our address is P.O. Box 28577, Providence RI 02908.

Call us at 401/​274-7861.
Or click below and send us an email.

Find a typo or misspelling on this site; win a free book of your choice.

You will notice that we offer five alternatives for persons to order products. Some choose to use credit cards. Sending a credit card number by email is no more risky than providing a credit card at a restaurant or using the number to order a product by telephone. Interception of individual credit-card numbers transmitted by email is rare indeed; we cannot recall a single case, and we report on these matters all the time.

Credit card numbers received by us are stored off-line in a secure container.

As experienced analysts in this field, we think that people fret needlessly about sending credit card numbers by email. Nonetheless we urge our customers to send the expiration date by a separate email message later in the day (NOT labeled "expiration date") and we urge them to delete their numbers from previous correspondence when they write to us a second time.

The first privacy newsletter in the world.
Privacy Journal ISSN 0145-7659

Entire contents of this Web site:
Copyright © 2018 Robert Ellis Smith
Copying of short excerpts ("fair use") is welcomed.

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Smith has expanded his vision of privacy in contemporary life with the publishing of a new eBook, The Magnetism of Islands. This non-fiction tale explores the special aspects of islands that intrigue us, mystify us, and draw us to them. Regardless of where they are located or whether they are urban or rural, islands have more in common with each other than with the nearest mainland. Find out how by reading Smith's new book, available in electronic text at or directly from Privacy Journal.

Site updated July 2018

PRIVACY JOURNAL is eligible for "cy pres" awards from class-action settlements so that we can further our advocacy and consumer education.
Call or write us right away to arrange for Robert Ellis Smith to be your speaker, or expert witness, or cy pres recipient.


Need an expert witness on privacy, credit reporting, surveillance, medical confidentiality, Social Security numbers, or identity theft? Our publisher is the most frequently used expert witness in the privacy field in the U.S.

Frank J. Williams, retired Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, praised Smith’s “balanced viewpoint,” saying, “We deal with so many people who are not exactly rational about their point of view. I respect that he’s not like that” (Rhode Island Law Tribune, September 10, 2001).

Do you need a compelling speaker for your group's next meeting? Need a consultant? Need in-house training? Need someone to speak to your group on "Establishing a State-of-the-Art Privacy Policy" or on "How to Protect Your Privacy" or "Current State and Federal Laws Protecting Privacy"? Need an expert critique of your privacy policy?

Smith can team up with security experts to provide your organization with expert advice on privacy AND security.

Privacy Journal Publisher Robert Ellis Smith speaks at the important meetings on privacy:

The 17th annual Computers Freedom and Privacy 07 in Montreal and again the next year in New Haven; "Privacy Laws and Business" 20th annual conference in Cambridge, England, in 2007; Wealth Masters International conference in San Diego in June 2007, invited back in December 2007 and for a third time in December 2008; the Privacy Symposium at Harvard in 2007, invited back in August 2008. His presentation was acclaimed at the HIPAA Summit in Washington in September 2009.

In 2010: Reboot Communications' Privacy & Information Security Congress, Ottawa Westin, Nov. 16; MIT-ACLU forum on Facebook, Cambridge, Mass., April 27; University of Rhode Island panel on new technology, March 31; Federation of American Women's Clubs annual meeting (featured speaker), Boston, March 11; American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts annual meeting (featured speaker), Boston, Feb. 6; workshop on camera surveillance, Camera Surveillance Awareness Network, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Jan. 14.

In 2011: "Why Is Privacy So Damned Important Anyway?," International Privacy Day, Jan. 26, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and The Seventh Annual Maritime Access & Privacy Workshop June 2 in the Westin Nova Scotian in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

In 2012: Rhode Island Library Association annual meeting, Smithfield RI, May 31, on protecting the confidentiality of library users.

Rhode Island Town and City Clerks Association annual meeting, Alton Jones campus, University of Rhode Island, June 21, on reconciling open-records mandates and privacy.

In 2013: Colloquium at Brown University in Providence RI to mark Data Privacy Day Jan. 28.

"Civil Rights Veterans Speak Out," Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, Providence RI Feb. 13.

"What You Need to Know About Public Records (and Privacy)," Warwick RI, May 22, sponsored by Lorman Education Services, http:/​/​​.

"Remembering and Reporting on JFK," Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester MA Sept. 11.

In 2014: EDUCAUSE webinar to mark Data Privacy Day, "The Importance of Location in Data Protection," Jan. 14.

In 2016: Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., panel discussion on use of identification cards, Mar. 29.

In 2017: He's back: Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., panel discussion on "revenge porn," Mar. 28.

June 9, seminar for professionals on "Drone Law, Crowne Plaza Airport, Providence, R.I.

June 28, same topic, Fireside Inn, Portland, Maine, June 28. Information from NBI Seminars, 800/​930-6182,

In 2018: He's back: Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., panel discussion on employers' access to social-media sites and passwords, April 5.

Voice of America Business Channel one-hour interview with "The Privacy Professor," Rebecca Herrold April 20.

Interview with identity theft specialist Mari Frank on her radio show Privacy Piracy ( in Orange County, Cal., at 1;30 p.m. PDT May 9 and again June 4, 2018.

Very high praise from The Wall Street Journal for our "Ben Franklin's Web Site." Order the book by clicking on the book title to the right.

Here's what The Wall Street Journal said June 18, 2007:

"Did you know that Ben Franklin wrote the country's first privacy law shortly after he set up the mail system? As it turns out, many new inventions were followed by new privacy laws. Privacy Journal publisher Robert Ellis Smith tracks this history in a fascinating and fact-filled journey."

Buy it now.

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privacy magazine, privacy publication, privacy news
privacy magazine, privacy publication, privacy news
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privacy newsletter, privacy speaker, privacy expert witness
privacy newsletter, privacy speaker, privacy expert witness
Marc Osgoode Smith, contributing editor

Essential Books

A - Legal Reference
Consumer Protection eBook
An eBook that you can upload to your handhold device and consult whenever you are in the marketplace or at work, to see what privacy protections exist to help you.
B - History
the tug between privacy and surveillance in U.S. history
E - Directory
500 names, address, phone numbers, and Web sites of the top experts and organizations in the field of personal privacy. $18.50
Order Form
D - Current issues
Anecdotes of Persons Victimized by Invasions of Privacy
Essays on privacy issues
D - Current Issues
C - Advocacy
F - Legal Reference
G. Classic Still Available
1980 National Book Award nominee
Regional Humor
Quiz for a Rainy Day