Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2010: why should people care?

CFP logoOne of our goals for the 2010 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference is to reach out to a broader and more diverse community.  Our upcoming “save the date” announcement is the first good opportunity for this.  Getting some attention on Twitter, blogs, and email lists can help raise awareness of “the best computer conference you’ve never heard of”, as Elizabeth Weise so memorably described it a decade ago.   But why should people care?

The intro from the 2006 conference says it well:

Now, more than ever, the lines of technology, freedom, and privacy are colliding.  Governments continue their surveillance of citizens in the name of security, huge databases of information on every aspect of individuals’ lives are created, and debates are underway about controlling content.  Yet, while technology is at the epicenter of these profound developments, technology also has the potential to advance the civil society…. CFP will explore issues that impact us all, wherever we are, around the world.

Indeed.  And for the last two decades, the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference has been at the heart of this discussion, with a mix of technologists, lawyers, policy experts, academics, corporate executives, politicians, and activists.  This year, we’ll be having it in Silicon Valley for the first time ever (yes, really!), and so it’s a unique chance to engage deeply and reframe the discussions that too often treat privacy and online rights as an afterthought.

Or so it seems to me.  Then again, I’m a regular at the conference (1, 2), and spend a lot of my time hanging out with privacy and free speech advocates … so perhaps I’m not the best judge of what’s a good hook for everybody else.

So, it’d be great to hear some other perspectives.  Last year’s program gives an idea of the wide range of topics that are covered at a typical CFP, and Lorrie Cranor’s Ten Years of Computers, Freedom and Privacy (from 2000) gives some historical perspective; I’ve included last year’s suggested topics in the first comment.  Given all that …

Why do you care?

How would you convince others who aren’t “the usual suspects” that they should care?