Issues surrounding privacy, technology to lead debate at symposium

By Jenny Whalen
U-M Law

With reports of hacking, online scams, and digital surveillance dominating the headlines, private citizens and national governments alike are becoming increasingly aware of, and concerned by, privacy, technology, and the legal issues confronting both.

The editorial board of the Michigan Telecommunications and Technology Law Review (MTTLR) is no exception. The journal will address issues in this vein at its "Privacy, Technology, and the Law" symposium on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the University of Michigan Law School.

"The topics we'll discuss are all issues that have been in the news," said Symposium Editor and 3L Zachary Sarnoff. "Edward Snowden. NSA activity. Hacking. These have all been public topics of conversation and issues in which people are really interested. We're asking whether laws need to be adapted to accommodate concerns of modern technology. There is also an international component. With technology, the world is becoming a smaller place."

The symposium will feature professors from more than a dozen law schools and universities, who will lead discussion on three panels: Theories of Privacy in Light of "Big Data", International Perspectives on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, and Technological Advances and Criminal Procedure.

"In selecting panelists, we looked for experts in the field," Sarnoff said. "We wanted people who are writing and speaking on these topics at the moment and would have a diverse perspective to add to the debate."

Whereas the first panel will address theories of privacy in relation to how big data has changed societal norms and challenged the way in which the law treats private actors with respect to privacy issues, the second will focus on how privacy laws in other countries have responded to problems posed by new technological advances, and how the relationship between domestic and foreign policy regimes has affected an increasingly global economy. The third and final panel will consider ways in which technological advances have challenged U.S. criminal procedure and Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, posing new problems for law enforcement.

The symposium, which begins at 9 a.m. in South Hall Room 1225, is open to the public and Sarnoff encourages anyone with an interest in the aforementioned topics to attend.

"I want people to come who are curious about these issues and willing to add to the debate by bringing their own questions and perspectives," Sarnoff said. "Every panel will have a question-and-answer period to give people a chance to share what they thought was interesting and change the conversation. I hope the audience learns something, but I also want them to leave with more questions concerning privacy, technology, and the law."

Complimentary refreshments will be provided between panels. No registration is necessary to attend.

Published: Wed, Feb 18, 2015