Alex Stamos, Facebook’s ex-chief security officer, thinks his former home at the heart of Silicon Valley is ill equipped to address the world’s most pressing digital problems, namely security, user privacy, and the protection of democratic institutions. To address this, and perhaps help ease the tensions between Washington and the tech industry while pulling in more academic and research experts, Stamos is launching a new institute he’s calling the Stanford Internet Observatory.
The former exec, who left Facebook for the world of academia in August and has earned a reputation for being outspoken and frank about the issues facing the industry, plans to formally announce the institute later today with a speech at Stanford. News of Stamos’ plans was first reported earlier today by The Washington Post.
“There aren’t processes to thoughtfully think through these trade-offs,” Stamos told The Post in an interview ahead of his planned speech, which is set to take place later today at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. “You end up with these for-profit, very powerful organizations that are not democratically accountable, making decisions that are in their best and often short-term interest … without there being a much more open and democratic discussion of what these issues are.”