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W&L Law Review Symposium to Explore Mass Surveillance and Cybersecurity, Fallout from Snowden Revelations and NSA Spying

Edward Snowden’s disclosures of the National Security Agency’s spying and surveillance programs shocked the world, both because of the scale of the operation and sophistication with which the massive data hauls were gathered and analyzed. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and other countries were strained, and the disclosures launched an important international debate as citizens questioned just how much privacy they were willing to give up in exchange for security.

On Jan. 23-24, Washington and Lee School of Law will host a first of its kind symposium taking a 360 degree look at the legal, social, political and economic issues spawned by Snowden’s revelations. The two-day event is titled “Cybersurveillance in the Post-Snowden Age” and will be held in the Millhiser Moot Court Room, Sydney Lewis Hall on the campus of Washington and Lee University. The event is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to preregister for the event online.

Law professor Margaret Hu, an expert in the intersection of cybersurveillance and civil rights, a faculty co-organizer of the symposium, explained that this event will bring together many of the nation’s leading experts on national security, cybersecurity and mass surveillance, international law and terrorism law, and data privacy.

“We are thrilled and humbled to have this opportunity to host such a critically important conversation,” says Hu. “This symposium event aims to foster a deeply informed dialogue on the cybersurveillance debate through an impressive gathering of nationally and internationally renown experts, including leading scholars, government leaders, journalists, policymakers, litigators, and technologists.”

One of the event highlights will be an opening keynote address on January 23 by General Michael Hayden, former director of both the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency. The lunch keynote panel on January 24 will feature Bart Forsyth, Chief of Staff, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), an expert on the USA FREEDOM Act and the post-Snowden statutory reform effort; and David Medine, Chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent, bipartisan agency within the executive branch established by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act.

The symposium will conclude on January 24 with closing keynote presentations from Ben Wittes, senior fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings Institution, and co-founder and editor-in-chief of the Lawfare national security blog; and Shane Harris, author of the recently published book “@War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex,” senior correspondent at The Daily Beast, and an ASU Future of War Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Among the topics covered during the panel sessions, speakers will address the architecture of cybersurveillance tools at the disposal of the NSA and other agencies in the midst of a big data revolution. They will also examine various policy and legislative proposals that have been recommended in the aftermath of these leaks.

In addition, participants will consider the potential impact of government and corporate responses to the Snowden disclosures, including executive action and compliance approaches and corporate and technological adaptations. A schedule of events and registration information can be found on the symposium website.

“This symposium event will support a range of highly sophisticated and critical vantage points from leaders who are extraordinarily informed,” says Hu. “This unique gathering of distinguished voices will facilitate an exciting and essential discussion on the Snowden disclosures and the future implications of rapidly expanding surveillance technologies.”

The annual Law Review Symposium is named in honor of Lara Gass, a member of the Law Class of 2014 who passed away in an automobile accident in March of 2014. Gass served as Symposium Editor for the Washington and Lee Law Review, organizing the Law Review’s 2014 symposium focused on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.