Deirdre Mulligan

Deirdre Mulligan
Associate Professor
Focus: information technology law and policy; privacy, security, copyright

Current Research

My current research is focused in three core areas:

  1. The identification of and response to “policy-making technology” — providing institutions within society with means for identifying instances where technology is embedding, and sometimes displacing, policy choices and strategies and processes for managing this phenomena consistent with the institutions place in society;
  2. The effect of surveillance, dataveillance, and network architecture on norms and policies around privacy, public places, and policing; and
  3. Organizational behavior surrounding the conceptualization and institutionalization of privacy, security and trust, and in particular how law influences the understanding and operationalization of these values.


B.A., Smith College (1988)
J.D., Georgetown University Law Center (1994)


Deirdre K. Mulligan comes to the I School from the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), where she was a clinical professor of law and the director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic. She served previously as staff counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington.

Professor Mulligan’s current research agenda focuses on information privacy and security. Current projects include qualitative interviews to understand the institutionalization and management of privacy within corporate America, and role of law in corporate information security policy and practice. Other areas of current research include digital rights management technology and privacy and security issues in sensor networks and visual surveillance systems, and alternative legal strategies to advance network security.

Recent publications include:

  • “Privacy Decision Making in Administrative Agencies”, Kenneth Bamberger and Deirdre K. Mulligan, 75 U. CHI. L. REV. 75 (2008)
  • “The Magnificence of the Disaster: Reconstructing the Sony BMG Rootkit Incident”, Deirdre K. Mulligan & Aaron K. Perzanowski, Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 22, p. 1157, (2007)
  • “Embedded RFID and Everyday Things: A Case Study of the Security and Privacy Risks of the U.S. e-Passport”, Marci Meingast, Jennifer King and Deirdre K. Mulligan, IEEE International Conference on RFID, March, 2007
  • “Transactional Confidentiality in Sensor Networks," Sameer Pai, Marci Meingast, Tanya Roosta, Sergio Bermudez, Stephen B. Wicker, Deirdre K. Mulligan, Shankar Sastry, IEEE Security and Privacy, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 28-35, Jul/Aug, 2008
  • “Noticing Notice: A large-scale experiment on the timing of software license agreements”, Nathan Good, Jens Grossklags, Deirdre K. Mulligan and Joe Konstan, In: Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'07), San Jose, CA, April 28 - May 3, 2007, pp. 607-616.

Mulligan is currently participating in a multi-stakeholder initiative, the Global Network Initiative, to advance and preserve freedom of expression and privacy through collaborative efforts aimed to resist government efforts that seek to enlist companies in acts of censorship and surveillance in violation of international human rights standards.


During the summer of 2007 Mulligan was a member of an expert team charged by the California Secretary of State to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the voting systems certified for use in California elections. This review investigated the security, accuracy, reliability and accessibility of electronic voting systems used in CA.

The reports can be found at

Mulligan was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Authentication Technology and Its Privacy Implications; the Federal Trade Commission’s Federal Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security, and the National Task Force on Privacy, Technology, and Criminal Justice Information. She was a vice-chair of the California Bipartisan Commission on Internet Political Practices and chaired the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP) Conference in 2004. She is currently a member of the California Office of Privacy Protection’s Advisory Council and a co-chair of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Academic Advisory Board. She serves on the board of the California Voter Foundation and on the advisory board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

What is the best thing about working at the I School?
The I School revels in problem-based, integrated, multidisciplinary, and policy-relevant research — what could be better than that?

What information issues interest you most?
The issues that challenge us to reflect upon our norms and laws, and allow us—sometimes force us—to reconsider what's possible and desirable. Technology and information continue to challenge values and expectations domestically, internationally and cross-culturally. This in turn sparks conversations and debates about ideals and aspirations and how best to meet them. It's heady stuff.

Your background is in law. What ignited your interest and subsequent research in information and technology policy?
During and after law school I had the privilege to work at leading public interest organizations dedicated to advancing civil liberties on the Internet, including the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Center for Democracy and Technology. From encryption policy and surveillance, to censorship on the Web, to questions about profiling and consumer privacy, I became keenly aware of the power technology had to shape behavior and enforce or undermine public policy through technical design decisions. I worked closely with computer scientists throughout my time in D.C. and learned that through such collaborations I was better equipped to identify problems and opportunities on the horizon, and more importantly able to construct a richer set of potential solutions. The power of interdisciplinary work became very apparent to me.

Something few people know about you?
I studied art history and architecture before going to law school. My artistic side is currently channeled toward "green art" projects with my kids (think starfighters out of recyclables), water colors with my daughter, and cooking and baking.

What keeps you up at night?
Lots of things, but I bake when I'm anxious — then I can sleep.

How to Reach Me

Office: 212 South Hall
Telephone: (510) 642-0499