Creating the future: Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2009

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From conference co-chairs Cindy Southworth and Jay Stanley’s Call for presentations, tutorials, and workshops:

The 19th annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference is now accepting proposals for panels, workshop sessions, and other events.

CFP is the leading policy conference exploring the impact of the Internet, computers and communications technologies on society. It will be taking place in June 2009, just months into a brand new U.S. administration — an exciting moment in history, as we look into the future and ask, “Where do we go from here?” For more than a decade, CFP has anticipated policy trends and issues and has shaped the public debate on the future of privacy and freedom in an ever more technology-filled world. CFP focuses on topics such as freedom of speech, privacy, intellectual property, cybersecurity, telecommunications, electronic democracy, digital rights and responsibilities, and the future of technologies and their implications.

We are requesting proposals and ideas for panels, plenaries, debates, keynote speakers, and other sessions that will address these and related topics and how we can shape public policy and the public debate on these topics as we create the future.

More information, and a link to the submission form, here.  The submission deadline is December 19 January 23.

CFP has always been a meeting ground for different perspectives: academics, privacy advocates, corporate types, government, activists, and at times hackers and students.  The quality of presentations is high, and there’s a good mix between big names and “not the usual suspects”.   Washington DC, six months into a new administration that’s being described as “the first internet presidency”, with privacy and civil liberties issues on the table … it should be a particularly good year!

In my CFP 2008: Call for proposals post back in February, I commented that “after a few (in my humble opinion) rather bland and corporate years, things have taken a more activist turn.”  Indeed.  The opening session made front-page news when McCain proxy Chuck Fish (a last-minute replacement) characterized telecom immunity without hearings as “selling indulgences”, leading to an important clarification by Doug Holtz-Eakin on National Review Online’s The Corner that McCain’s position on FISA was based on the “unitary executive” theory.  Lillie Coney’s workshop on e-Deceptive campaign practices highlighted an incredibly-timely issue — and helped influence the Voter Suppression Wiki and other election-protection initiatives.  Susy Struble and I led Dear POTUS ’08, which turned out to be a valuable prototype for Get FISA Right‘s open letter to Obama.  And the list goes on….

Last year also marked the first CFP Workshop on Activism and Education Using Social Networks.  Organized by Deborah Pierce of PrivacyActivism and Jay, it included modules focusing on Facebook, MySpace, trolls, book promotion, and Designing Social Networking Tools for Activism.  Many of the topics we covered anticipated social networks’ increasingly important role in activism and shaping opinion.   One small example: the trolls workshop was co-led by moot of 4chan, who later in the summer was quoted in Matthias Schwartz’ New York Times magazine piece The Trolls Among Us.  More recently, 4chan gained fame as the first public disclosure of the Sarah Palin email hack.   See, CFP really is where the future is shaped 🙂

This year, I’m co-chair for online visibility, and one of the things I’ll be trying to do is work with people involved in social network activism campaigns like Join the Impact, #dontgo, Twitter Vote Report, and the others I’ve mentioned above to propose sessions that also spark a lot of participation — and value — before the conference.  In aid of that, I’ve set up a Wetpaint wiki to help develop these proposals; more details soon.*  It would be great to broaden involvment even further, so if you know of other social network activism campaigns, please add them to the list here — and encourage people to get involved with the planning.

Much as I love CFP, it’s always had challenges involving diverse participants.  Attendees and speakers are predominantly older, male, white, relatively affluent, and heavily-credentialed (lawyers, computer scientists, policy people); recently, because of visa restrictions and the TSA’s and ICE’s appalling practices, it’s gotten increasingly US-focused.   One of the explicit goals of the online efforts is to reach out to the communities who haven’t been involved — which also means thinking about the perspectives of those who don’t have the time or money to attend in person.  There’s a lot of room for improvement: last year, we rather embarrassingly weren’t able to stream video, and as far as I know the audio files still haven’t been uploaded to the web.  Still, if we start paying attention to it now, I think we can make a lot of progress … and continue to build on that moving forward.

So I’d like to make a special invitation to those who haven’t been involved with CFP before.  As well as submitting proposals, please share your perspectives on questions like

or anything else that strikes you as important.  In keeping with CFP’s philosophy, feel free to respond pseudonymously — or anonymously!

As I said last year,

If it seems like CFP means a lot to me, it does: I’ve been going there for over 10 years; my SO Deborah Pierce has been going even longer and chaired it in 2005. I’ve volunteered, asked questions, been on a panel, run a couple of BoFs, and taken photos of Deborah during the various sessions she’s appeared in or moderated, and this year I’m excited to be on the Program Committee. There are lots of friends and long-term acquaintances we only get to see in person at CFP — and every year we met a lot of new people.

It’s still true.

This year’s Computers Freedom and Privacy conference will be in Washington, DC, June 1-4, 2009. Please join us!


PS: cross-posted on Pam’s House Blend

* I really do take my own advice 🙂