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Annual German Law in Context Seminar to Examine German-American Relations in the Wake of the NSA-Scandal

The 2014 German Law in Context program, an annual research seminar led by Washington and Lee professors Russell Miller and Paul Youngman, will explore the German legal framework for privacy and intelligence gathering in the wake of the NSA spying scandal.

The seminar, now in its sixth year, involves W&L law and undergraduate students in an interdisciplinary examination of German legal issues by exploring how history, politics, social institutions, the economy, and culture help illuminate and explain German law and legal doctrine. Many of the law students participating in the seminar are associated with the work of the German Law Journal, which is based at W&L.

This year, the focus is on German and American relations following the revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showing that for many years the U.S. has been pursuing massive intelligence gathering operations in Germany, including the collection of Germans’ telecommunications data and content. Miller has said that America’s good faith and trust in the world have been some of the casualties of these disclosures.

“America’s global surveillance and data collection programs have deeply angered many of America’s allies and the disillusion may be felt most strongly in Germany,” says Miller. “On one hand, Germans have very high expectations for privacy. On the other hand, Germans thought that their long-standing, close alignment with American security policy would buy them a greater measure of respect.”

Germany’s leading paper Der Spiegel called the NSA Affair “a serious threat to the transatlantic partnership.” In response the German Parliament convened an investigative committee and the Federal Public Prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into the American intelligence gathering activities. Miller testified on these matters before the special committee in June.

The seminar series will conclude on December 8 with a keynote address by Dr. Konstantin von Notz, a member of the German Parliament serving on the special committee investigating the NSA affair. A complete schedule of events can be found below.

Alongside regular seminar discussions of the relevant legal framework, a series of interdisciplinary events is planned, including guest lectures from historians, political scientists, and experts in German cultural studies. The program also includes a film series.

Past German Law in Context programs include: “Defending Democracy: German Law and the Struggle against Extremism,” “Parliament’s Army: Lessons from Germany on Law and War,” “The Immigrant in German Law and Culture,” “The German Social State,” and “Germany’s 1968 and the Law.”

For more information, contact Prof. Russell Miller (millerra@wlu.edu).

German Law in Context Seminar Schedule

9/17 – The “Right to Forget” – European Data Protection
Prof. Bernd Holznagel
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
5pm, Classroom C

9/24 – A Theory of Privacy and Surveillance – Foucault’s Panopticon
Prof. Sarah Horowitz
History Department
Washington and Lee University
5pm, Classroom E

9/30 – History of Surveillance and Privacy in Germany
Prof. Wolfgang Krieger
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Department of History
5pm, Classroom E

10/7 – Screening: “The Lives of Others” / “Das Leben der Anderen”
5pm, Classroom E

10/10 – “The Lives of Others” and How the Legacy of Tyranny Shapes Present Notions of Privacy
Prof. Laura Heins
Tulane University
Germanic & Slavic Studies
3pm, Classroom D

10/20 – Judicial Control of Surveillance / Protection of Data in Europe
Prof. András Jakab
Max Planck Institute (Heidelberg)
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
4pm, Classroom A

11/4 – Screening: “The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse” / “Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse”
Time and Location TBD

11/11 –  Legislative Control of Surveillance – German Oversight of Intelligence Community
Nicole Schreier
Ph.D. Candidate
Justus Liebig Universität Giessen
5pm, Dean’s Conference Room

12/3 – Book Discussion “Every Man Dies Alone” by Hans Fallada
Led by Prof. Roger Crocket
Washington and Lee University
German Department
4pm, Classroom C

12/8 – Keynote Address Dr. Konstantin von Notz
Member German Bundestag
German Green Party (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen)
Bundestag Committee Member – Digital Agenda
Bundestag Committee Member – NSA Committee of Inquiry
5pm, Location TBD