University of Virginia School of Law professor Danielle Citron, an expert in privacy law who has advanced the idea of intimate privacy as a civil right, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Founded in 1780 during the American Revolution, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences elects members “who discover and advance knowledge and those who apply knowledge to the problems of society,” according to the academy’s website. Members join with other experts to produce studies “that inform public policy and advance the public good.” Citron is the 11th current UVA Law faculty member to be elected, and joins a class that includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Zadie Smith and Ilya Kaminsky.
“I’m so honored to be included alongside our great colleagues who are members,” Citron said. “Just to be with them — luminaries all — is really something.”
At UVA, Citron is the Jefferson Scholars Foundation Schenck Distinguished Professor in Law and Caddell and Chapman Professor of Law. She is the inaugural director of the school’s LawTech Center, which focuses on pressing questions in law and technology, and a co-host of the Law School podcast “Common Law.” Her latest book, “The Fight for Privacy: Protecting Dignity, Identity, and Love in the Digital Age,” is about the “central role that intimate privacy plays in our lives,” and the need to protect it. The book was named by Amazon among its top 100 books of 2022.
“Intimate privacy should be treated as a human and civil right because without intimate privacy, we have difficulty developing identities, enjoying self-respect and social respect, and opening up to others so that we can forge relationships and fall in love,” Citron said in an interview about the book.
Citron’s scholarship and advocacy have long been recognized nationally and internationally. In 2019, she received a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant based on her work on cyberstalking and intimate privacy. In 2018, she received the UMD Champion of Excellence award and in 2015, the United Kingdom’s Prospect Magazine named her one of the Top 50 World Thinkers and The Daily Record named her one of the Top 50 Most Influential Marylanders.
The MacArthur fellow has worked to put her scholarship into action, collaborating with lawmakers, law enforcement and tech companies to combat online abuse and to protect intimate privacy. In recent months she has been involved in efforts to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The law was designed to incentivize online companies to self-monitor online abuse and “offensive” material, Citron has noted, but has resulted in immunizing websites that traffic in nonconsensual porn.
From 2014-16, Citron served as an adviser to then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris and as a member of Harris’ Task Force to Combat Cyber Exploitation and Violence Against Women. Citron has also testified before Congress about deepfakes and before parliamentary officials in the United Kingdom about misogynistic cyber hate speech.
Citron is the vice president of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit devoted to fighting for civil rights and liberties in the digital age founded in 2013 and named after her article “Cyber Civil Rights.” She serves on the board of directors of the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Future of Privacy, as well as on the Advisory Board of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Technology and Society and the Center on Investigative Journalism.
From 2009-2022, she served as an adviser to Twitter, and as an adviser and member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council from 2016-2022. Currently, she is an adviser to the dating app Bumble, the music streaming service Spotify, the video-sharing platform TikTok and video-streaming service Twitch. She also serves on Facebook's Nonconsensual Imagery Taskforce.
Citron’s first book, “Hate Crimes in Cyberspace,” was widely praised in published reviews, discussed in blog posts and named one of the 20 Best Moments for Women in 2014 by the editors of Cosmopolitan magazine.
She has published more than 50 articles and essays for law journals, and written more than 50 opinion pieces for major media outlets. Her numerous media appearances range from HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” to National Public Radio to a TED talk, “How Deepfakes Undermine Truth and Democracy,” which has garnered more than 3 million views.
Before joining UVA Law, Citron taught at Boston University School of Law and the University of Maryland School of Law. She is an affiliate scholar at the Yale Information Society Project and NYU’s Policing Project. As a member of the American Law Institute, she serves as an adviser to the “Restatement Third, Information Privacy Principles Project” and “Restatement (Third) Torts: Defamation and Privacy.”
In addition to her many scholarly and professional accomplishments, Citron is known as a professor who forges special bonds with students — asking them for feedback on her writing and even stocking their favorite kind of Skittles.
“She’s got this huge label and this title as a genius, and she most certainly is a genius,” said second-year law student Tolu Ojuola in a UVA Today article. “But she doesn’t wield that against anyone. If anything, she uses it to pull more people in and to pull more people up.”
The earliest members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences include founders John Adams and John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin and Alexander Hamilton, among many others, with more recent members including Albert Einstein, Colin Powell, Martin Luther King Jr. and Georgia O’Keeffe. Ten other UVA Law School faculty members are academy members:
Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.