#snubor at #sxswi: The Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights panel at South by Southwest

Great discussion! Kudos to organizer Christina Gagnier, panelists Jack Lerner and Lisa Borodkin, and moderator Alex Howard (aka @digiphile).

What next?  You can vote for or against individual rights at the Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights site, and you can also vote for or against the entire bill via Twitter.  My post here has some thoughts, and there are also some questions on Quora (1, 2).  We’ll propose at least one session on the Social Network Users Bill of Rights for this year’s ACM Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference — June 14-16 in DC and online.  Stay tuned!

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What next for the Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights?

Social Network Users Bill Of Rights

A broadly-recognized social network users’ bill of rights will be a huge step forward for online freedom and privacy. For me, and hundreds of millions of others, sites like Facebook, Twitter, tribe.net, and free-association are how I stay in touch with friends and family. As Voces Contra Las FARC, Barack Obama, #iranelection, and hundreds of other campaigns have shown, social network sites are also vital for political activism. And yet, today we the users of the sites have only minimal rights.

— me, in It’s time for a Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights, June 2010

Today’s SXSW panel Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights: You Decide is a great chance to rekindle the energy on the #billofrights (as we like to say on Twitter).   Panelists Christina Gagnier, Lisa Borodkin, and Jack Lerner all spoke at last year’s ACM Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference last year when we crafted the document.*  Alex Howard of O’Reilly joins them.  Cool!  Check out the #snubor hashtag!

I like what CFP has done because I think they’ve covered all the bases, and they’ve done it with language that 95 percent of Web users can understand.

— Terry Sweeney, A Manifesto in the Name of Privacy, Internet Evolution

Since last June, the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt have helped highlight the importance of social networks for political purposes, the Commerce Department has called for an online Privacy Bill of Rights — and ongoing news stories like A Chinese Activist and Mark Zuckerberg’s Dog continue to spotlight many social network sites’ challenges with free speech, and pseudonymity.  With this year’s CFP scheduled for Washington DC in mid-June, now’s a perfect time to get serious about organizing.

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Showtime! Computers, Freedom, and Privacy in a Networked Society starts today!

Should we have to give up our freedom and privacy in to reap the benefits of a constant connection to friends and information?  How do we take advantage of the power of computers to improve freedom and privacy online and off?

– From the CFP 2010 Call for Participation

Let’s find out, shall we?

I’ve got blog posts coming out today on the CFP blog, Pam’s House Blend, and hopefully Google’s Public Policy blog and a Microsoft blog as well … so I don’t have much to add to that.  On a more personal level,  here’s what I said a couple of years ago

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. 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.

Indeed.

Chairing a conference is a huge amount of work — even with all the help from co-chairs Sigurd Meldal and Dorothy Glancy, and the great work from the volunteers on the planning team and at San Jose State.  Deborah and I were having dinner last night looking forward to getting our lives back.    Still, it’s worth it.  It’s a great program and we’re webcasting a lot of the sessions.  And who knows, but the Social Network Users’ Bill of Rights (aka #BillOfRights) has a chance to take off.  Exciting times.

See you at http://cfp2010.org!

jon

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#iranelection and a sea of green on Twitter: at the forefront of social network activism

“The first step that I suggest as a solution is that we Iranians, no matter where we live in the world, strengthen the social ties among ourselves…. This is where the power of our social network resides.”

— Mir Hussein Mousavi, quoted in Ehsan Moghaddasi’s The Green Moharram

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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?

jon

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New strategies for fighting FISA and the PATRIOT Act

The notes from the “birds-of-a-feather” session I led at Computers, Freedom, and Privacy are written up on the CFP Wiki. Alas, we didn’t get the online aspects to work; still, we had a dozen people there in person, including Get FISA Right members Thomas Nephew and Chip Pitts. It was a great discussion. The opportunities we identified include

  • building a broad, diverse coalition
  • focusing on cost, dignity, and human rights issues as well as privacy and the constitution
  • using anti-corporate activism against the companies supplying equipment and profiting from surveillance
  • involving the technical community and domain experts

and a lot more. We also discussed some of the tactical issues about the upcoming PATRIOT Act vote: the need for an accurate vote count; a pressure campaign on key Congresspeople like Jane Harman, Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, and Harry Reid; and the importance of powerful visual images.

Check it out!

jon

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Creating the future at #cfp09: showtime for privacy and civil liberties activsm!

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“Fight for me!”
— a privacy-loving Facebook friend, wishing me luck at the conference

Here’s our opportunity to realize the promise of the Net that was so present in 1990s when CFP started.
— Deborah Pierce on the CFP blog

The program for this year’s Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference is outstanding even by CFP’s high standards.  The mix of technology, legal, policy, and activism perspectives is particularly strong this year, and with the new administration and Washington DC location there’s significant involvement by government employees for the first time since the 1990s.  As well as CFP regulars like Jennifer Grannick, Jim Harper, Ed Felten, Nicky Ozer, Alessandro Acquisti, Stewart Baker, and Lillie Coney, speakers incude first-timers like Marcy Wheeler, Dori Maynard, Paul Ekman, Shireen Mitchell, Rebecca Mackinnon, Nancy Scola, and Ari Melber.  Don’t take my word for it — check out the program and prepare to be impressed.

Best of all, with streaming video, the #cfp09 Twitter backchannel ,* live-blogging, and a community wiki, the conference will be more accessible onine than every before.    Kudos to Katy Nelson of the ACLU and Robert Guerra of Freedom House for taking the lead with the video streaming, and to all the volunteers of the online visibility team for all the great work on the blog, Twitter, and Facebook.  The online schedule has details, we’ll do our best to keep the web site updated regularly, and the Twitter feed will be best way to keep up what’s going on.

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Twittering in the Trenches: a workshop on social networks at #cfp09

Along with Deborah Pierce, Shireen Mitchell, and Ari Melber, I’m presenting n the Twittering in the trenches workshop today at Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference.

If all goes well, it’ll be streamed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/cfp09 … and the Twitter hashtag is #cfp09.

Deborah’s post on the CFP blog has some background.  Check it out!

I’ll be at CFP all week … stay tuned for more.  For now, here’s the program.

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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!

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“9.5 Theses for Technology Policy in the Next Administration”

On the CFP08 blog, Laura DeNardis of the Yale Internet and Society Project writes:

To help shape public debate in this election year, the Information Society Project at Yale Law School recommends the following policy principles – The 9.5 Theses for Technology Policy in the Next Administration

The principles include Privacy, Access, Network Neutrality, Transparency, Culture, Diversity, and Openness.  The intent here is that these are starting points for a discussion; threads between now and CFP will delve into the individual principles, and I’ve already put them up on the wiki to allow for revision.

There’s certainly a lot of good stuff here.  Since at this stage we’re trying to get the conversation started, I’ve instead been focusing on some areas I thought had room for improvement, for example asking in a comment*

why does diversity mention only media concentration, and ignore the general dynamic in which marginalized groups (women, persons of color, those on the wrong side of the digital divide … the list goes on) have been excluded from discussions like these?

It’s an interesting discussion so far; please check it out and join in!

jon

* the actual comment I left there had a few typos as well; I fixed them here.

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Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2008: call for proposals is up!

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From the CFP2008 web page:

This election year will be the first to address US technology policy in the information age as part of our national debate. Candidates have put forth positions about technology policy and have recognized that it has its own set of economic, political, and social concerns. In the areas of privacy, intellectual property, cybersecurity, telecommunications, and freedom of speech, an increasing number of issues once confined to experts now penetrate public conversation. Our decisions about technology policy are being made at a time when the architectures of our information and communication technologies are still being built. Debate about these issues needs to be better-informed in order for us to make policy choices in the public interest.

This year, the 18th annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference will focus on what constitutes technology policy. CFP: Technology Policy ’08 is an opportunity to help shape public debate on those issues being made into laws and regulations and those technological infrastructures being developed. The direction of our technology policy impacts the choices we make about our national defense, our civil liberties during wartime, the future of American education, our national healthcare systems, and many other realms of policy discussed more prominently on the election trail. Policies ranging from data mining and wiretapping, to file-sharing and open access, and e-voting to electronic medical records will be addressed by expert panels of technologists, policymakers, business leaders, and advocates.

Updates:

CFP2008 is being held in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 20-23. Back in 2000 Elizabeth Weise called it “the most important computer conference you’ve never heard of”; I think of CFP as the most important conference — and network of people and organizations — focused on civil rights (and increasingly, human rights in general) in an electronic society. Lorrie Faith Cranor’s Ten Years of Computers, Freedom and Privacy gives the early history, where hackers, lawyers, law enforcement, and goverment representatives fought out “crypto wars” and internet censorship battles (ending with a defiant “we’ll be back” from the Clinton adminstration as the Clipper Chip went to its well-deserved fate).

The technology policy focus is extremely timely. The upcoming election will feature significant differences between the parties and candidates on issues like net neutrality, warrantless surveillance, immunity for corporations who may have collaborated with illegal government wiretapping programs, Real ID, the McCain bill to censor social networks, and privacy — now on the national agenda thanks to MoveOn’s stance against Facebook’s Beacon.

Over the last several years, CFP has steadily broadened its horizons to take a more global view and pay increasing attention to perspectives that are getting overlooked: digital divide issues, normalization of surveillance and censorship by governments and corporations, hactivism, the special challenges of communities like the Mohawk Nation (spread over multiple jurisdictions), high school students in a panel organized by danah boyd in Seattle in 2005. After a few (in my humble opinion) rather bland and corporate years, things have taken a more activist turn: a 2003 New York walking tour by the Surveillance Camera Players, a 2005 demo by the ACLU that led to the US State Department changing policy on encryption and passports (props to State Department official Frank Moss for being there and taking the message back), Patrick Ball accepting his EFF Pioneer Award by satellite from Sri Lanka, where he was working with the truth and reconciliation commission. Last year in Quebec, during the height of Stop Real ID Now! grassroots activist campaign, a half-dozen coalition members ranging from libertarians to labor activists were there (as well as some people from DHS and elsewhere who strongly disagreed with us but were still willing to have very honest discussions), and Bruce Schneier’s keynote on the Psychology of Security for people on both sides of the debate.

The call for presentations, tutorials, and workshops asks for proposals on panels, tutorials, speaker suggestions, and birds of a feather sessions through the CFP: Technology Policy ’08 submission page. The deadline for panels tutorials, and speakers is March 17, 2008, and the birds-of-a-feather deadline is April 21.The list of suggested topics is really broad (I’ll include it in a comment) and so as always there are likely to be a lot more high-quality submissions than can easily fit; the program committee often merges and suggests changes to sessions to help squeeze more in. The submission process can seem a bit intimidating (this is an ACM conference and so it has some academic overtones) but the guidelines are helpful and have links to some examples.

So if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered, one or more speakers you think would be good, a presentation you’d like to give, a panel you’d like to organize, or a tutorial you’d like to attend (or provide), please think about submitting it. If you’re not sure whether it makes sense, feel free to give it a trial run in a comment here or just send me some mail.

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. This year, with the two of us working together on Tales from the Net, and Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2008’s ambitious goal of “shaping public debate” on technology policy in an election year, I’m particularly looking forward to it!

jon

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