CTIC Summer Public Interest Fellowships awarded to two Penn Law students

Penn Law’s Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition (CTIC) has awarded the CTIC Summer Public Interest Fellowships to students Christina Chen L’20 and Vivek Kembaiyan L’20. They will spend the summer providing pro-bono legal services to clients on issues relating to the internet, new technology, and intellectual property at the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society.

“This year’s Fellows demonstrate a strong commitment to public interest and technology,” says Christopher Yoo, the John H. Chestnut Professor of Law, Communication, and Computer & Information Science and the founding Director of Penn Law’s Center for Technology, Innovation & Competition. “Penn Law has one of the most exciting technology law programs in the country. The CTIC Summer Fellowship is just one of many ways that we provide Penn Law students with opportunities to gain experience in law and technology that might not otherwise be available to them.”

The CTIC Summer Public Interest Fellowship, available to Penn Law 1Ls and 2Ls, fund internships with public interest or government organizations doing work relevant to CTIC’s focus in technology policy, intellectual property, cyber law, privacy, and related fields.

Vivek Kembaiyan, a second-year Penn Law student, spent the years prior to law school developing his strong interest in digital privacy. Through a volunteer fellowship starting in 2016 with X-Lab, a think tank, he began advocating for federal legislation that would strengthen individual privacy protections.

“Being a legal intern on the Privacy Tools team at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard has been one of the most intellectually stimulating experiences I’ve ever had,” said Kembaiyan.

He added: “Through my internship I am working with an inter-disciplinary team of lawyers, computer scientists, and social science researchers on cutting-edge research on how to better protect informational privacy. I’m also constantly learning so much from the other interns, researchers, and special guests at the Center. Some of the topics I’ve been learning about so far are: government censorship and propaganda operations through social media, the perils of algorithmic decision making in the criminal justice system, and the regulation of police surveillance at the city-level.”

Last semester, Kembaiyan participated in Penn Law’s National Security Crisis Law Simulation to get a better perspective of how the government views the use of its surveillance powers. Kembaiyan has long-term plans to create a full-spectrum advocacy non-profit dedicated to expanding personal privacy protections in the United States.

Chen, a dual-degree JD/MCIT student, worked in Twitter Inc.’s legal department on various copyright and trademark matters and data privacy issues last summer.

“As a student attorney at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, I have gained valuable experience counseling entrepreneurs and start-ups on IP, transactional, and privacy law matters.” said Chen. “Managing client relationships and thinking strategically about my diverse clients’ business needs provide me with the necessary experiential skills to tackle new issues in the digital age.”

Before attending law school, Chen investigated cybercrimes and complex financial crimes at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where she developed an interest in the interdisciplinary fields of privacy law and cybersecurity.

“I’m so thankful for the CTIC summer fellowship for helping make it possible for me to spend the summer immersed in this exciting public interest work. It has re-affirmed my interest in building a public interest career around increasing digital privacy protections and made me more excited to dive into these topics further in my remaining time at Penn Law,” Kembaiyan noted.

The Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition is dedicated to promoting foundational research that aims to shape the way legislators, regulatory authorities, and scholars think about technology policy, intellectual property, privacy, and related fields. Through major scholarly conferences, symposia, faculty workshops, educational programs, and other activities, CTIC is committed to providing a forum for exploring the full range of scholarly perspectives on these issues.