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Send the ACLU to SXSW!

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August 13, 2014

What kind of content do YOU think should be featured at one of the biggest technology events of the year?

SXSW Interactive gives the public a substantial say in its programming. This past March, our panel with Edward Snowden was the festival’s most talked-about, and we’re eager to get back to Austin in March 2015 to discuss the cutting edge intersections of privacy and technology.

Check out our panel submissions below and throw a few votes our way.

Beyond Privacy: Surveillance’s Threat To Liberty
With Ben Wizner (ACLU) and Bruce Schneier (Cryptographer and Privacy Specialist)

Once we could live lives of practical obscurity. No longer. Conveniences of modern life – from smartphones to smoke detectors – have become digital informants, giving governments and corporations detailed information about us.

The problem is often framed as one of privacy. But that doesn’t come close to capturing what’s threatened by the explosion of data and the zeal with which it’s collected, stored, and analyzed. Free speech, security, and equality are just a few of the values imperiled by mass surveillance.

But the situation isn’t hopeless. There’s nothing inevitable about technology overpowering liberty, and there are solutions – legal, regulatory, and technological – to help us regain control over our data and our lives.

Join Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology project and legal advisor to Edward Snowden, for a conversation with Bruce Schneier, the country’s leading public interest technologist, about the world we’re creating and how we can fight back.

Vote here.

Fighting surveillance can be good for business
With Chris Soghoian (ACLU) and Matthew Prince (CloudFlare)

The Snowden disclosures have been bad news for many U.S. tech companies. As foreign customers seek to protect themselves and their data from the NSA, the losses to U.S. companies may run into the billions. In particular, the cloud computing sector and ad-supported companies whose business models depend upon data collection are most at risk.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The Snowden stories don’t have to be bad news. A handful of U.S. tech companies have realized that privacy can be a competitive advantage, that building secure products designed to resist surveillance and government coercion can be good for business. For such companies, the combination of paranoid engineering and a brave legal team have enabled them to offer products that protect user data from many threats, including those hand-delivered by men and women in dark suits.

Vote here.

Facebook, Twitter, & The Future of Free Speech
With Nicole Ozer (ACLU of California), Monika Bickart (Facebook), Jeffrey Rosen (National Constitution Center), Matthew Zimmerman (Twitter)

Online platforms are now the town square for creativity and social and political connection. This means that many of the most important decisions about content, access, and speech are now concentrated in the hands of a few private actors. When does art cross the line and get flagged on Facebook? Which tweets are staying up or coming down? How much censorship is just too much or not enough? Who should be the deciders? And how do you get your voice heard when you think content should be taken down or put back up? Join policy experts from the top platforms, the ACLU’s Nicole Ozer, and Professor Jeffrey Rosen from the National Constitution Center to discuss what’s happening now and the future of free speech.

Vote here.

Making Devices “Smart” About Privacy
With Matt Cagle (ACLU of California), Nicole Ozer (ACLU of California), Jules Cohen (Microsoft Corporation), Laura Berger (Federal Trade Commission)

It’s not just smartphones anymore. Smart fridges tell us when our eggs have gone bad. Smart thermostats track our energy use. Smart monitors allow us to keep track of our children. As the devices we use every day become smarter, they become far more useful. But they also collect new kinds of information – about our most intimate habits and interactions – multiplying the risks to privacy. Hackers, data brokers, and even the government may gain new kinds of keys to our homes and personal lives. So how can companies building the Internet of Things protect privacy in this new data frontier?

This panel will discuss how companies, policymakers, and consumers can be smart about privacy in the Internet of Things.

Vote here.

Tiny Budget, Big Outreach: How ACLU Activated Youth
With Roy Rodenstein (SocMetrics) and Rob Fishman (The Niche Project, Inc.)

For a nonprofit, the budget can severely restrict its ability to conduct outreach on a cause. The ACLU found a way to reach millions of people with a budget that will shock you! The Dream: collaborating with celebrities who tell their fans what you need them to do. The nonprofit fantasy is that celebrities would line up to give the nonprofit free access to millions of fans. The Reality: Tons of money and energy spent chasing a dream with little chance of success. But that doesn’t mean that harnessing someone’s influence is out of reach. Today, technology enables anyone to cultivate a personal brand, broadcast it worldwide, and earn influence to become powerful enough to challenge traditional paid media outlets. For little cost, your nonprofit can collaborate with an influencer whose existing brand message and audience align with your nonprofit’s mission. Learn how the ACLU surpassed its outreach goals by harnessing influence to reach youth about the Constitution .

Vote here.

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