May 2011

Konstantinos Stylianou on technological determinism and privacy

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Konstantinos Stylianou, a former Fulbright Scholar now working on a PhD in law at Penn Law School, and author of the provocative new essay, “Hasta La Vista Privacy, or How Technology Terminated Privacy,” discusses technological determinism and privacy. Stylianou’s thesis is that the evolution of technology is eliminating privacy; therefore, lawmakers should switch emphasis from regulating the collection of information, which he claims is inevitable, to regulating the use of that information. Stylianou discusses why digital networks specifically make it difficult to keep information private, differences between hard and soft technological determinism, and when he thinks people will realize about their private information what the recording industry has finally realized about digital music.

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Micah Sifry on government transparency and WikiLeaks

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Micah Sifry, co-founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, editor of techPresident.com, and author of the new book, Wikileaks and the Age of Transparency, discusses government transparency. Sifry talks about the various purposes of government transparency, technology’s effect on it, and bi-partisan competition that can promote it. He also discusses Bradley Manning’s case, the evolution of WikiLeaks, and the transparency, or lack thereof, within the WikiLeaks organization.

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Joseph Menn on the hunt for internet crime lords

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Joseph Menn, a Financial Times technology reporter and the author of Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down The Internet, discusses cyber crime. Menn says that one of the main challenges of cybersecurity is that the internet was never intended for many of the things it’s used for today, like e-commerce or critical infrastructure management. He talks about the implications of the internet still being in beta form and comments on the recent Sony data breach and other similar cyber attacks. Menn also discusses his book, telling a few anecdotes about the people who go beyond computer screens in pursuit of internet crime lords.

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Julian Sanchez on electronic surveillance

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Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institue who focuses on issues related to technology, privacy, and civil liberties, discusses electronic communications. Sanchez talks about changes in surveillance of electronic communications since 9/11, highlighting the large number of cases in which the FBI has gathered phone, internet, and banking information without judicial oversight. He then discusses the legal framework around electronic communications, which he says was built for a very different set of assumptions than we have today. Sanchez also gives a few recommendations for how to disentangle the convoluted legal standards related to electronic communications.

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Jessica Litman on reclaiming copyright for readers

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Jessica Litman, professor of law at the University of Michigan Law School and one of the country’s foremost experts on copyright, discusses her new essay, Reader’s Copyright. Litman talks about the origins of copyright protection and explains why the importance of readers’, viewers’, and listeners’ interests have diminished over time. She points out that copyright would be pointless without readers and claims that the system is not designed to serve creators or potential creators exclusively. Litman also discusses differences in public and private protections and talks about rights that should be made more explicit regarding copyright.

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