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Highlights from “Scholarship After Snowden” panel on digital surveillance

October 21, 2013

The rise of pervasive digital surveillance and what it means for the academic world and future professionals was the subject of a program sponsored Oct. 17 by Penn Law and the Center for Global Communication Studies at the Annenberg School for Communication.

The program, “Scholarship After Snowden,” featured a keynote speaker, two panels, and a formal questions and answers section.

The keynote speaker was Bruce Schneier, a security expert and writer. Schneier spoke primarily about the collective responsibility of university students and academic leaders to engage in the discussion and contribute solutions to the problem of expanding surveillance capabilities in relation tobusiness, government, and ethics.

Speakers on the first panel focused on the harms of Edward Snowden’s release of classified NSA documents and how the academy can contribute solutions to combat these harms. The panel consisted of Joseph Turow, a professor and Associate Dean at Annenberg School for Communication; Cynthia Wong, a senior researcher for the Human Rights Watch; Lauren Steinfeld, a senior advisor for privacy and compliance at the University of Pennsylvania; and Ben Wagner, a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Global Communication Studies program at the Annenberg school.

The second panel focused on how to prepare future professionals for a world with such expanding surveillance capabilities. The panel consisted of Michael Samway, a former Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Yahoo; Christopher Yoo, a professor of law, communication, and computer and information science at Penn Law; Andrea Matwyshyn, a professor at Wharton Business School; and Nien-he Hsieh, a professor at Harvard Business School.

Questions by the moderator, Rebecca MacKinnon, brought out the lack of preparation for future leaders in terms of business and human rights and prompted a lively audience discussion discussion on the necessity for change and suggestions to bring it about.

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