Friday, March 28, 2008

Call for Essays on the Technology Policy of the New Administration

The Yale Journal of Law & Technology (YJoLT) is seeking essay-length submissions concerning the technology policy platform of the new American presidential administration. Essays selected for publication will appear in the Fall Issue of YJoLT (publication date November 2008).

Ideal submissions will discuss the priorities and guiding principles that American technology policy should follow. Submissions analyzing a particular technology policy issue in depth will also be accepted.

Essays of less than 5,000 words are preferred. Please submit all essays to yjolt.submissions(at) In the subject line of the email, please include the words CFP Essay.” The authors of essays selected for publication will be notified on a rolling basis. Any questions can be directed to Lara Rogers,

  • Deadline: Monday, May 5

Funding for Journalists - Deadline Monday

The Yale Law School Law and Media Program (LAMP) is offering an opportunity for journalists to receive full funding to attend CFP: Technology Policy ’08. CFP ’08 will begin with a full day of tutorials and programming specifically geared toward journalists writing about information technology and policy, followed by a networking reception for journalists and other participants in the Law and Media Program.

Journalists writing on privacy, intellectual property, telecommunications and cyberlaw are encouraged to apply for conference funding, which will include travel, hotel, meals and any registration fees for the full conference.

To apply, please send a cover letter explaining your interest in the program, along with your resume and three writing samples (by e-mail or hard copy) to Tracey Parr (tracey.parr(at), Yale Law School, P.O. Box 208215, New Haven, CT 06520-8215, by March 31, 2008. Up to twenty journalists will receive conference funding. Applicants accepted for conference funding will be notified by April 4, 2008.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Potential Session: Silicon Valley in Washington D.C.

Given the technology policy focus of the meeting, it would be useful to bring together industry representatives to share with us the concerns and goals of Silicon Valley's major companies with respect to Congressional legislation and at the administrative level.

I would imagine bringing together the public policy counsel from companies such as Google, Microsoft, Sun, and Apple to discuss their views of current goings on in D.C.

We could follow an "interview" format, with a moderator asking questions, such as:

1. What bills are you currently promoting or would you like to see in the future?

2. What are the biggest threats among the current legislative proposals?

3. Where are the largest differences of opinion among Silicon Valley-type companies?

4. What concerns do you have at the foreign or international level? Do you follow developments at WIPO closely?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Program committee introductions

The members of the program committee have their bios on the wiki; we'll also use this thread to introduce ourselves informally.

(Originally posted March 23; bumped to the top on March 26. Thanks to the one dozen program committee members who have introduced themselves so far.)

The unofficial reading list thread

What are the articles, papers, books, blogs people should think about reading before CFP? Ideally we'll have some pages on the wiki that track this ... for now, let's collect initial situations here in this thread.

Monday, March 24, 2008

"Oh drat": the post-deadline idea/discussion thread

The submission deadline has now passed, and we all know what's going to happen: people will suddenly start coming up with other great ideas for topics and speakers. Oh drat. Still, who knows -- maybe there will be be opportunities to integrate them with sessions being planned, or to replace speakers who have to drop out for some reason.

So please use this thread:
  • if there's a speaker you think would be great, please give a couple-sentence description of why, along with which topics they'd cover.
  • if there's a topic or session that you're worried we'll overlook, pleasedescribe it - along with ideas about potential people.
In either cases, links out to where you can find out more information are appreciated.

Potential topic: the matrix of oppression and the blogospheres

In sociology, the term "matrix of oppression" refers to the intersections of different dimensions of social inequality -- race, gender, etc. Race-related discussions of 2008 US presidential race provide concrete examples in the differing perspectives on statements [see below] by Michelle Obama, Geraldine Ferraro, Jeremiah White, and Bill O'Reilly in the women of color, black, feminist, and (largely white male-dominated) progressive and conservative blogospheres.

After an introduction to the concept and the context for the various statements, the panel will continue with:
  • a qualitative survey of the different reactions, highlighting both typical reactions and outliers
  • a quantitative analysis, using tools such as Microsoft Research's BLEWS
  • thoughts on the implications for discussions of technology policy: how to ensure that the different voices are heard?
By collecting links to primary sources and discussions on a wiki, this session will also assemble a valuable corpus that’s useful for anybody doing research in this area.

Update, March 26: Skewz, which describes itself as "a media rating site for political bias", is also an interesting potential source for quantitative analysis. I'm sure there are lots of others too. Please add suggestions as comments!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Potential topic: Voces Contra La FARC

The anti-FARC protests on February 4 involved millions of people throughout Columbia and around the world ... and were organized in about one month, starting on Facebook. Oscar Morales Guevara's group Un Millon De Voces Contra La FARC (A Million Voices Against FARC) now has over 300,000 members; Felipe and Daniel Echeverri created a “Un Millon” Facebook application to supplement the effort.

CFP's been discussing the power of the internet to change the world for eighteen years, and this is one of the largest-scale examples yet. And in a situation where governments are considering regulation of social networks (see CDT's overview of pending US legislation), the implications for technology policy are huge.

This would be a great topic for a panel in its own right, or a segment in a panel on social networks, hacktivism, or the influence of Facebook. Jennifer Woodard Maderazo's Facebook Becomes Catalyst for Causes, Colombian FARC Protest gives some broader context.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Potential activity: "Blasts from the past"

One of the amazing things about CFP is how many incredible people have spoken there over the years. When people suggest potential speakers, I frequently find myself responding "great idea! he/she spoke several years ago and it would be interesting to hear their current perspectives".

Alas, there aren't enough slots at conference to hear from everybody again -- especially since it's equally valuable to bring in new people and perspectives. But wait a second: it's 2008, why are we only thinking in terms of physical presence and standard conference formats?

"Blasts from the past" are either short self-produced videos (5 minutes or less) or essays (2 pages or less) from past speakers and participants. Everybody's invited to submit; we'll use mechanisms like digg,, number of views on YouTube, and (with luck) a Slashdot poll to select a handful to show/read at a cocktail hour at CFP, and play selections from the videos between sessions.

Of course, they'll also be available online to people whether or not they're at CFP; and the collection will make a fascinating snapshot of "what CFP-ers think of the world as of May 2008".

Potential session: online campaigning in the 2008 US elections

Looking through the submissions to date, there's nothing about online campaigning. I believe somebody's working on a panel from the international perspective; it could be useful to complement this with something US-focused, paying particular attention to social networks -- a significant difference from the 2006 election cycle.

An ideal moderator would be one of the few journalists who have covered this aspect of this campaign: Amy Schatz of WSJ, Linnie Rawlinson of CNN London, Ari Melber of The Nation, Nikki Schwab of US News and World Report, Farhad Manjoo of Salon, Sarah Lai Stirland on Wired's THREAT LEVEL, Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone, Tim Lebrecht on iPlot. [The articles I link to give a good overview of this with a focus on the presidential campaign.]

Any of the following could be good topics:
  • the different online approaches of the Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Ron Paul campaigns. It would be great to find a way to invite activists from each.
  • the role of the big commercial social networks: Facebook*, MySpace, YouTube.
  • issue-based advocacy, for example StepItUp and Courage Campaign's use of social networks for a variety of purposes
  • the progressive blogosphere's successes -- and internal stresses, highlighted by alegre's criticism of the attacks on dissenting views
  • the rise of the black blogosphere (see Reggie Royston's interview with Howard Witt for more)
  • the impact of social networks on delegate selection (see the comments for discussion)
[There are clearly a lot more possibilities as well; please put your suggestions, preferably with links, in comments.]

One of the reasons I think it's so important to cover this at CFP is so that we as a community can become more effective advocates for freedom and privacy. The huge amount of money and energy being poured into the current U.S. election cycle makes it a unique "lab" for examining the cutting edge campaigning techniques. Better understanding of this is vital for helping us influence technology policy.


* while not related to the US elections, Jennifer Woodard Maderezo's Facebook Becomes Catalyst for Causes, Colombian FARC Protest illustrates what can be done with today's Facebook

Friday, March 21, 2008

Proposals wanted: access to knowledge by the visually-impaired

Eddan posted on Facebook about an important topic where we don't yet have any relevant proposals, and I wanted to echo it here:

It also became evident last week at the World Property Organization (WIPO) that the problems for access to knowledge by the visually-impaired will be the first aspect of the exceptions to and limitations on copyright discussion/treaty at the next meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright. There is ample evidence of the problems blind people encounter in regards to access of materials and clear changes that be made in the law. This could be most efficiently and effectively done at the international level by setting minimum standards for exceptions to copyright for the visually impaired. The WIPO Copyright Committee in fact declared in their summary statement that "speedy action" would be necessary to deal with these issues.

Suggestions? Although the official deadline is today, we'll be accepting submissions over the weekend ...

International Topics at CFP '08

As conference chair, I thought that the theme of Technology Policy '08 would be a timely one. It is indeed a US-centric invitation to discuss the important issues facing cyberspace/information society as it wrapped up attention to the US election year cycle. This thread is intended to solicit people's opinions about how to best strike the balance between international issues and the Tech Policy '08 theme.

As I primarily deal with international issues in my work, I have come to appreciate the extent to which US tech policy influences the rest of the world. A better understanding of what technology policy 'is,' in the US electoral process, could help clarify international issues in both the multi-lateral and domestic contexts. If US politicians were more accountable to their decisions regarding tech policy, and felt pressure to have coherent and consistent views on these issues, the US position could possibly be influenced in UN institutions and free trade agreement negotiations.

Given this relationship of US policy and international CFP issues such as privacy, IP, telecom, etc., I see an important role for international issues and panels at the CFP. Panel proposals that reveal this dynamic would be particularly interesting. Even more welcome would be proposals on international issues that impact technology policy everywhere, including the US. It is my opinion that through such discussions, discussions at CFP can actually become less US-centric.

That's just my 2 cents [or insert other monetary unit here].

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Potential session proposal, v2: censorship, hate speech, and due process on social networks

My potential panel proposal on Facebook censorship and due process didn't generate any discussion here, but did get a couple of comments in social network sites: appreciation for the role play aspects, and a suggestion from Deborah that it would be interesting to look at other social networks as well. Indeed! So here's a different proposal, focusing on what resonated:

Different social networks have different policies and enforcement mechanisms, but similar issues come up: protests filed over harassment or hate speech, accounts being deactivated without notice. This role-playing session will illustrate several difficult cases, based on real-world examples. Participants will advocate on behalf of the parties -- the person accused of harassment, the victim -- and "judges" ruling on the claims.

To highlight the diversity of norms and processes, each case will be judged under the policies of multiple social networks, including commercial ones such LiveJournal, Facebook, Bebo, and World of Warcraft as well as non-profit ones. The list can be extended, and pre-conference online discussions -- and commentary during the sessions -- will allow us to get the input of the inhabitants of these different virtual worlds.
Thoughts about that?

Panel proposal: Privacy, Reputation, and the Management of Online Communities

The "Frank" who mentioned in the Autoadmit/Juicy Campus thread that he had submitted a panel on related topics turned out to be Frank Pasquale of Seton Hall Law School ... it's an excellent proposal, and so I asked for his permission to post excerpts here to spark discussion.

Here's the summary:
Reputation management online demands a certain measure of control over the revelation of personal information and its distribution across networks. Yet such control conflicts with values of free expression and many business models. How, then, can the individual interest in reputation and control of personal information be balanced against expressive and market values? This panel will address these issues in the context of recent developments in social networking and personalization technologies.
Panelists include Ann Bartow and Danielle Citron, and the detailed description lists some of the controversies (oh yeah!) they'll be discussing, including the AutoAdmit Harassment and Defamation Lawsuit, privacy concerns related to Google’s Acquisition of DoubleClick, and Facebook News Feed, Social Ads and Beacon.

Intriguing indeed, as well as relevant and timely. Or so it seems to me. What do others think?

And there are usually ways to improve any proposal, so what suggestions do people have: related topics, more controversies to consider, and so on?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Potential panel: Voting technology: the rest of the story

"Voting technology" is one of the suggested topics for CFP, and there's a long tradition of discussing this. In 2004, for example, there were three voting panels on voting at CFP including a mock election where Avi Rubin stole it from Lorrie Faith Cranor, or maybe the other way around. 2008's another election year, and there's at least one excellent proposal in the works. One of the things I've noticed, though, is that the most discussions of technology at CFP have focused on voting machines and internet voting -- critical, but only part of the story. So it might be good to think about a complementary session, something along the lines of ...

The 2008 US presidential campaigns illustrate many other issues related to election technology: ballot design issues ("Double Bubble Trouble" in California and Washington State), grassroots activists using blogs and social networks to call attention to issues in LA County and the potential Florida vote-by-mail election, innovative use of video and YouTube with the New Hampshire chain of custody and Prairie View A&M Waller County march. It also featured technology like flash polls on the internet, million-person-plus groups on Facebook, and prediction markets like Intrade and the Iowa Electronic Market that are at the very least "voting-like".

What implications do these technologies have for voting in the 2008 elections and beyond?

Thoughts? Suggested speakers? Other topics?

PS: the Facebook thread on this also has some interesting discussion.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Potential submissions in progress

Please use this thread as a catch-all for links to or one-paragraph summaries of potential submissions that people are working on.

If there's something you see here that catches your eye, please jump into the conversation!

Autoadmit and Juicy Campus

Merging a couple of suggestions from different Facebook threads, how about a speaker discussing issues related to Autoadmit (also known as and Juicy Campus? There's a wide range of opinions over the Autoadmit lawsuit (update here); recent discussions of Juicy Campus add additional issues such as the site's founder's desire for anonymity. The Autoadmit lawsuit sprung from Yale, so there's likely to be local interest; potential panelists include the folks quoted in the various articles.

This could conceivably be a session in it's own right, perhaps a lunchtime breakout; or it might make more sense as a slot in a broader session on cyberbullying.


Monday, March 17, 2008


The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) has been a topic at CFP for over a decade ... this year, it's on YouTube and the front pages of the papers, complete a multi-month political battle over expanding authority and introducing retroactive immunity for telcos who complied with warrantless searches. (Current status here.) So it's especially timely.

What to discuss? Who to invite to discuss it?

On a thread on Facebook, Ben Masel mentioned that he had talked to Russ Feingold and (subject to Senate scheduling) he's interested in attending. If something like this can happen, it opens up a lot of possibilities: a fiery keynote, or a debate with a Senator or administration representative on "the other side" or perhaps a combination of sessions.

More elaborately, how about the idea of a workshop on Tuesday involving press, policy people, activists, and congressional staff on all sides of the issue, trying to break the logjam, with a two-part session later in the week: initially presenting the results, and then hearing a response from one or more Senators.

Or of course there's always a good ol' panel discussion, with different people focusing on aspects of the issue: a historical perspective (how have things changed from back in the 90s?), the status of email searches, the reinvention of TIA, whistleblowers, telco immunity ... this could be either a standalone session, or an introduction to a keynote or part of a larger workshop.

Or ... there are a lot of other possibilities.


Q&A about submitting proposals

Please use this thread for questions about the submission process; I, and others, will do our best to answer.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Potential session proposal: Facebook censorship and due process

For people who haven't submitted proposals for a CFP session before, the process can seem daunting: an intimidating-looking form complete with questions about your "qualifications" for organizing the session. It's tempting to just go with the simpler topic or activity or speaker proposals, and of course that's always an option. Still, there's a lot of value in thinking about an entire session; and so over the next few days I'll be giving a few examples -- both to demystify the process and to give some additional examples.

Please feel free to jump in with questions, suggestions, or other perspectives.

I'll start with something that several people have suggested would be a natural for CFP: combining looking at Facebook censorship with law professor Daniel Solove's Facebook Banishment and Due Process. This fits squarely into the conference's "social networking" topic area, and clearly has technology policy implications: what, if any, rights do people have to the information in their profiles -- and as Facebook becomes synomymous with communications for an entire generation, what if any responsibilities does the company have to allow political speech? On top of that, it's squarely in the technology/law/policy nexus that's CFP's home -- and ripped from today's headlines! So it seems like a definite possibility.

The form asks for a title and a 75-word description, easy enough; and then asks for the proposed format: panel? debate? something else? A panel is always a safe option: me on the censorship stuff, somebody from Facebook, Solove or somebody else for the overall legal context, somebody providing a first amendment viewpoint (from Chilling Effects, the ACLU, the First Amendment Center). The mix of different perspectives could be quite illuminating ...

But y'know, CFP always has a lot of panels, and it's worth looking for other possibilities. Suppose instead we had a moot-court-like format, with a group of people who have been banned by the automated filters appealing to a hypothetical Facebook-like social network for a change in policy. Expert witnesses could providing testimony; some of real people actually affected by this would have a chance to get their perspectives heard. Court TV-like commentary could supplement it, and a three-"judge" panel of social network experts could rule ... not that it would be binding on Facebook, or anybody else, but still a very interesting result -- and a lot more concrete than anything that would come out of the panel discussion.

At this point, this sounds a lot more intriguing to me. If I decide to go forward with it, the next steps involve thinking more about potential participants and contacting some of them -- and massaging the rough thoughts here into the 75-word overview. Before I do that, though, I wanted to see what others thought. A few questions:
  • is this the kind of session you think would be interesting?
  • thoughts between panel and other formats?
  • other potential participants/twists?
Other ideas and suggestions welcome as well!


PS: also posted on Facebook (1, 2) and on

Funding for Journalists -- deadline March 31

From the CFP Wiki:

The Yale Law School Law and Media Program (LAMP) announces an opportunity for journalists to receive full funding to attend CFP: Technology Policy ’08.

Journalists writing on privacy, intellectual property, telecommunications and cyberlaw are encouraged to apply for conference funding, which will include travel, hotel, meals and any registration fees for the full conference.

To apply, please send a cover letter explaining your interest in the program, along with your resume and three writing samples (by e-mail and hard copy) to Tracey Parr (, Yale Law School, P.O. Box 208215, New Haven, CT 06520-8215, by March 31, 2008. Up to twenty journalists will receive conference funding. Applicants accepted for conference funding will be notified by April 4, 2008.

Monday, March 10, 2008

CFP around the web!

One of our goals for this year is to get more discussion going around on the web before, during, and after CFP. There's this blog, of course; we're also setting up CFP discussion groups on various social network sites. Here are a few of the early ones:
If you know of are others, or blog posts that discuss CFP, please add them as comments!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


CFP banner

From the web site for the 18th ACM conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy, CFP: Technology Policy '08:

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.

More...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"; 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). Since then the conference has taken a progressively broader and more inclusive focus while moving in a more activist direction.

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 21, 2008, and the birds-of-a-feather deadline is April 21. 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.

We'll use this blog to give updates, discuss ideas for potential sessions, delve into particular topics, and introduce some of the people involved in CFP. One of the things we're really trying to do this year is to broaden participation, and that includes the people who aren't at the conference in person -- sure, there's nothing like being there, but between the blog, the wiki, and presence on various social network sites, hopefully it can be interesting and entertaining for people joining virtually as well.

More soon as we get this site and others fleshed out. For now, welcome!