After Scholarship After Snowden

Prerna Soni, a UPenn Law Student and Symposium Editor of the Journal of Business Law, reports on CGCS and Penn Law’s Scholarship After Snowden mini-conference which took place on October 17th

Ferret Cannon.  Egotistical Giraffe.  Bullrun.  These are not just nonsensical terms, but rather the names of a few of the surveillance tools used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor your online activity.  The discussion of Internet surveillance and the right to privacy has swept the U.S. by storm after the NSA exposé by Edward Snowden earlier this year. On October 17th a group of scholars and practitioners gathered at Penn to discuss what these revelations mean for the future of the academia and the Internet. Scholarship After Snowden proved to be a thought-provoking event.  Attendees were forced to reexamine the breadth of government surveillance, and to reevaluate the way the academy approaches technology education and policy going forward.

The mere scope of surveillance by the U.S. government is astounding – we are not talking about an email here, a chat history there. Everything that is done on the Internet is collected and stored as data.  As Bruce Schneier, a renowned cryptographer and privacy expert noted, “We leave digital footprints everywhere,” and the fundamental problem is that we have made surveillance far too easy and cheap. When surveillance and data storage is cheap, there is a tendency to store everything.  As Schneier aptly noted, when you have a great deal of money and resources, “when you have the choice of A or B, you do both.”  This problem is furthered by the fact that while many Internet users understand its basic mechanics, they do not really get what is going on “under the hood,” as Joseph Turow, the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies…

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