Acclaimed privacy activist Caspar Bowden dies

News by Doug Drinkwater

Influential and award-winning privacy advocate Caspar Bowden has died from cancer.

Bowden held a variety of roles throughout his career, from chief privacy adviser at Microsoft and co-founder of the UK think-tank Foundation of Information Policy Research (FIPR) to being director on the board of the Tor Project, a role he held until his death, which was announced yesterday.

He was frequently called to speak at the European Union on matters of online privacy, and campaigned tirelessly against digital intrusions by companies and governments.

Bowden was particularly critical of the UK's RIPA, saying its powers were not fit for purpose back in 1998. Seventeen years on, and RIPA's powers are now under review.

He also predicted the NSA's use of PRISM in a report to European Parliament back in 2012, before Edward Snowden's revelations, and produced a report on the impact of US surveillance on Europeans after those leaks came to light.

Bowden, a frequent commentator on, was eventually dismissed from Microsoft for being overly critical of Redmond's privacy posture, and said that he didn't trust the company in an interview with The Guardian in 2013.

Security experts, privacy activists and politicians mourned his passing on Twitter on Thursday.

“We're sad to hear of Caspar Bowden's passing. A true believer in the fight for privacy, for everyone everywhere,” said a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

“RIP to the most difficult, stubborn privacy activist and thorn in the side of tech companies I knew. He was an inspiration,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist with the speech, privacy and technology project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Separately, the Tor Project's Jacob Appelbaum added: "In the hospital Caspar Bowden asked that we work to ensure equal protection regardless of nationality. Privacy is a universal human right."

Bowden's life has been celebrated in several excellent obituaries, including from the EFF, Boing Boing and from Ben Goldacre.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Video and interviews