February 6th – Unwarranted Surveillance – A JOLTT panel featuring EFF’s Shahid Buttar

The Journal Of Law And Technology At Texas (JOLTT – http://jolttx.com) is proud to present the panel Unwarranted Surveillance, featuring Shahid Buttar of EFF and Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck of The UT School of Law. Shahid will be visiting Austin as a guest of EFF-Austin, a long-time local affinity group of EFF and a member of their Electronic Frontier Alliance (EFA).

Congress recently reauthorized, extended, and expanded NSA surveillance without a judicial warrant requirement to restrain documented (and potentially recurring) abuses. Why does domestic surveillance prompt concerns from across the political spectrum? How does it relate to constitutional norms and principles? And how does it connect a recurring debate in the federal policy arena to local policing—and policy opportunities available to grassroots networks and local policymakers in cities across the country? All this and more will be discussed at this panel.

Shahid Buttar is an artist, writer, organizer, and lawyer. He works at the Electronic Frontier Foundation as the organization’s Director of Grassroots Advocacy, offering him opportunities to work with organizations and affinity groups around the country fighting mass surveillance and corporate control over science and culture. Shahid also serves on the boards of Defending Rights and Dissent and the Fund for Constitutional Government, served as the Executive Director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee from 2009-2016, and graduated from Stanford Law School in 2003, where he served as Lawrence Lessig’s teaching assistant for Constitutional Law.

Robert M. (“Bobby”) Chesney is an American lawyer and the Charles I. Francis Professor in Law at The University of Texas School of Law, where he serves as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and teaches courses relating to U.S. national security and constitutional law. In addition, he is the Director of the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, a University-wide research unit bridging across disciplines to improve understanding of international security issues, as well as cyber-security and AI-related issues. Chesney addresses issues involving national security and law, including matters relating to military detention, the use of force, terrorism-related prosecutions, the role of the courts in national security affairs, and the relationship between military and intelligence community activities. He is a co-founder and contributor along with Benjamin Wittes and Jack Goldsmith to the Lawfare Blog.

Stephen Vladeck is a Professor of Law at the University of Texas School of Law, where he specializes in national security law, especially with relation to the prosecution of war crimes. Vladeck has commented on the legality of the United States’ use of extrajudicial detention and torture.

Open to the public.

Location Details: UT School of Law is located off of Dean Keeton St & Robert Deadman Dr. The meeting will be held in Townes Hall (TNH) Room 2.140 which is on the Ground Floor near the North Patio and Courtyard.


Unwarranted Surveillance – A JOLTT panel featuring EFF’s Shahid Buttar

Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018, 3:30 PM

Townes Hall (TNH) 2.140
727 E Dean Keeton St Austin, TX

1 Activists Attending

The Journal Of Law And Technology At Texas (JOLTT – http://jolttx.com) is proud to present the panel Unwarranted Surveillance, featuring Shahid Buttar of EFF and Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck of The UT School of Law. Shahid will be visiting Austin as a guest of EFF-Austin, a long-time local affinity group of EFF and a member of their Electronic F…

Check out this Meetup →

https://www.facebook.com/events/1271828116250767/ ———————————————————–

 

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November 5th – EFF-Austin Hosts The Plurality of Privacy in 5 Minute Plays (P3M5)

EFF-Austin board member Heather Barfield is curating a series of short, privacy-themed plays that will run November 2nd-5th at The Vortex. A collaboration with the Goethe-Institute Washington, multiple local directors will stage a variety of short plays from international playwrights that explore the value, nature, and evolution of privacy. VORTEX Connects continues these conversations each night with post-performance discussions with leading voices in digital rights, technology, humanities, and the future of privacy. A number of EFF-Austin board members, volunteers, and friends will be leading these discussions. We hope to see you there.

While we encourage you to see the plays on whatever day you are able, join EFF-Austin for the Sunday show, which we will be officially presenting. EFF-Austin president Kevin Welch will be your host for the evening and will arrive at 6:30pm to lead a pre-show hour of drinks, socialization, and dinner at the adjacent Butterfly Bar and Patrizi’s Italian food trailer.

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https://www.meetup.com/EFF-Austin/events/244014744/
https://www.facebook.com/events/118551385492508/
http://p3m5.heatherbarfield.com/
http://vortexrep.org/p3m5

http://www.vortexrep.org/
http://butterflybaraustin.com/build/
http://www.patrizis.com/

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What do you do when the FCC doesn’t care about you?

During last week’s day of action for net neutrality, I called, petitioned, and emailed my representatives. Then I switched my profile picture to a ninja cat on a unicorn with lasers for eyes.

The picture above is terribly cliched. But that could be a good thing, in context. It could even be meaningful.

No corporate interests drove the cultural triumph of pixelated rainbows or feline ronin. But these memes are rooted in our psyches to an almost oppressive degree nonetheless. That we can look at the above image and think “well, duh, that’s the internet for you, gee whillikers” and yawn to ourselves or roll our eyes says something powerful.

That something is the glorious and surprising online hegemony of participatory culture.

Participatory culture is Professor Henry Jenkins’ term of art for grassroots communities that grow, share, and create via technology. Jenkins views participatory culture as primarily something that young people do; for the purposes of this blog, it is age-unrestricted.

The web may be the ur-example of modern participatory culture. The internet is strange because strange people banded together and worked hard to make it strange. Not all of these weirdos have corporate money to throw around. Not all of them have access to avenues for organizing or communicating offline. But they know how to use the internet. And they are worth protecting.

Internet-mediated participatory culture impacts a tremendous and growing swath of modernity. In recent years, the power of the internet to unify and concentrate cultural movements has borne sometimes delightful, sometimes alarming fruit in the form of participatory politics. Participatory politics is also Henry Jenkins’ coinage, and it’s just what it sounds like: using technology on a grassroots level to connect with likeminded individuals and effect political change.

You encountered participatory politics during the 2016 presidential election. You have been living with the fallout ever since.

Participatory politics is like any other tool or process: how it is used depends on the intent of those who use it. Participatory politics has fueled, among other things, Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the MP expense account scandal, Gamergate and the alt-right, Bernie bros, ISIS, and the Arab Spring.

Last week, Battle for the Net contributors including the EFF used participatory politics to defend the FCC’s current policy on net neutrality. We did a pretty good job, if you judge such things by engagement numbers and records broken. We sent more than five million emails to Congress and left more than nine million comments to the FCC. On July 12, we actually broke the record for most comments left for the FCC in a single day. The previous record was held by–wait for it–Battle for the Net as well!

So clearly we did a good job, right? I mean, apparently we did an awesome job…so the FCC is going to respond to our concerns any day now, right?

Unfortunately, the current chairman of the FCC appears to be just as committed to open dialogue, bipartisan politics, and responsivity to the needs of the populace as the man who appointed him. Under Ajit Pai’s leadership, the FCC is ignoring not just the record-breaking millions of comments, but also poll results showing strong bipartisan support for current net neutrality regulations among U.S. citizens.

Sounds pretty crazy, right? But it gets crazier.

Because the FCC is ignoring the whole zombie commenter problem. Because zombie commenters are, sigh, a thing now.

A few months ago, a third party (probably working for an ISP) used names from old voter registration sheets to leave fraudulent comments with the FCC. How many fake comments? About 500,000.

Check to see if your name was used here

It gets crazier. Some of these fake comments were signed by dead people. This seems like cause for consternation, right? Especially on the part of the regulatory agency. So the FCC developed a comment screening process and pledged to overhaul problems in its comment collection system. Just kidding!

The FCC publicly declared that the agency would make no attempt to discern between real and fake comments unless the signatories were obviously fake names such as King Kong or Napoleon Bonaparte, a position that categorically excluded the real names of real dead people who didn’t sign up for any of this, because they’re dead. Really.

Now, given the last six months and just, uh, everything, let’s make something clear. Ajit Pai is not suffering from dementia. Mr. Pai is not just an old decrepit husk of a man tottering about the Court of Appeals in a bathrobe with Fox and Friends on blast. His agency’s statements are not the strenuous but doomed attempts of staffers to make sense of Ajit Pai’s word salad. No one at the FCC is sundowning, okay? Pai and pals are more than mentally competent to perform in their appointed positions. They know what they’re doing here. That means they’re doing it on purpose.

So what do we do when our leaders won’t respond to us? Do we just give up? Is there even a point to protest under these conditions?

I think there is. In fact, I think there are several.

Through continuing to advocate for our beliefs and our needs, we let other politicians know the constituent demand for net neutrality. This lays a solid groundwork for policy change under future administrations. We also find our own voices in articulating our thoughts to ourselves and others, which is key for sparking genuine innovations and solutions. And we find our kin, the people with whom we can form deep philosophical communion. We are primates, after all. We need community.

Keep fighting. Keep talking. Keep making noise. When our leaders abandon us, all we have are each other.

You can start here .