digitalculturesnews Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Surveillance Democracies Presents Chinmayi Arun (Ctr. for Communication Governance, National Law University Delhi)


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The Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Surveillance Democracies is delighted to present our upcoming speakers for April: Chinmayi Arun (Centre for Communication Governance, India); Jennifer Granick (Stanford Center for Internet & Society); and Kim Stanley Robinson (Author of the Mars Trilogy).

Tomorrow! Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Paper-thin Safeguards and Surveillance in India

Chinmayi Arun | Research Director, Centre for Communication Governance
National Law University Delhi

Location: UC Davis School of Law, King Hall Rm 1301
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Abstract: In 2014, the Attorney General of India argued before the Supreme Court of India that there may be no legal right to privacy in India. In response, the Supreme Court decided to set up a Constitutional Bench clarify whether the right to privacy exists in India. This could mean several steps backwards for what is already a deeply flawed privacy framework in India.

The history of the right to privacy in India offers interesting context to the the Attorney General’s argument, as do more contemporary reports of the mass surveillance infrastructure being deployed by the Indian government. Whenever questioned about its surveillance programs and personal information databases, the Indian government responds with reassurances about respecting the right to privacy. However the existing privacy safeguards offered by the Indian legal system are weak, and may be undermined further once constitutional bench looks into them.

The flaws in the Attorney General’s argument become apparent when held up to the history of the development of privacy norms in India, from the drafting of the Constitution onwards. The Supreme Court has been developing privacy jurisprudence in response to changing modes of surveillance but has not yet created new norms for the period in which phone-tapping has given way to the monitoring of online information. It has also never looked at the role of private online intermediaries in facilitating government surveillance.

Indian jurisprudence has only accounted for targeted surveillance so far. It remains to be seen whether mass surveillance will result in new and better privacy safeguards, or whether the surveillance-privacy balance will shift to weigh heavily and irrevocably in favor of the state.

Chinmayi Arun is Research Director of the Centre for Communication Governance and Assistant Professor of Law at National Law University, Delhi. She teaches Internet Governance, privacy and media policy. She is the research coordinator of the Oxford India Media Law Research Project, a member of the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group formed by the Government of India for the India Internet Governance Forum, and one of the academic experts for the Internet & Jurisdiction Project’s Observatory. She works with media regulation and internet governance, particularly in the context of the rights to free speech and privacy.

Arun has studied at the NALSAR University of Law, and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). At the LSE, she read regulatory theory and new media regulation, and was awarded the Bernard Levin Award for Student Journalism. She has worked with Ernst & Young and AZB & Partners, Mumbai in the past, and has taught at the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences where she introduced courses on regulatory theory and communication regulation.

She is lead author of the India country report for the Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers’ research project on online intermediaries, as well as the India reports in Freedom on the Net Report for the years 2014 and 2015. Her academic writing has tended to focus on freedom of expression, intermediary liability and privacy.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

American Spies: Modern Surveillance Under U.S. Law
Jennifer Granick | Director of Civil Liberties
Stanford Center for Internet & Society

Location: UC Davis School of Law, King Hall Rm 1301
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Abstract: Technology is transforming privacy–our personal control over data about us, our interactions with companies, and our relationship with our government. From Edward Snowden we are still learning the extent of the U.S. government’s exploitation of commercial services for massive and indiscriminate surveillance. While encryption and other privacy enhancing technologies can and have done more to stop opportunistic surveillance than any legal reforms we’ve seen, law is an essential part of policing government power over individuals. We have to legislate protections for emails, buddy lists, drive back ups, social networking posts, web browsing history, face prints, voice prints, and more. Moreover, U.S. law has to protect foreigners’ privacy. Our failure to do so not only disrespects human rights and gives intelligence agencies the ability to bulk spy on Americans, but it’s also threatening platforms’ ability to operate globally. These political fights are happening now and public interest groups around the world are waiting and watching for academics to take a strong leadership role.

Jennifer Granick is the Director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Jennifer returns to Stanford after working with the internet boutique firm of Zwillgen PLLC. Before that, she was the Civil Liberties Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Jennifer practices, speaks and writes about computer crime and security, electronic surveillance, consumer privacy, data protection, copyright, trademark and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. From 2001 to 2007, Jennifer was Executive Director of CIS and taught Cyberlaw, Computer Crime Law, Internet intermediary liability, and Internet law and policy. Before teaching at Stanford, Jennifer spent almost a decade practicing criminal defense law in California. She was selected by Information Security magazine in 2003 as one of 20 "Women of Vision" in the computer security field. She earned her law degree from University of California, Hastings College of the Law and her undergraduate degree from the New College of the University of South Florida.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

You Are a Hedge Fund
Kim Stanley Robinson | American Writer, Author of the Mars Trilogy
Location: UC Davis School of Law, King Hall Rm 1301
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Abstract: Every individual’s internet activities makes them contributors of data to a interlocking system in which they are forced to become in effect the managers of a personal hedge fund which tries to manage life risks placed on them by the privatization of risk. In this situation surveillance is just one aspect, and often not the worst aspect, of the financialization of daily life. Democratic resistance strategies for counteracting this enclosure of individuals’ futures will be explored.

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the greatest living science-fiction writers and important political writers working in the United States today. He has published over twenty novels and countless short stories. Robison is best known for his "Mars" trilogy—Red Mars (1993), Green Mars (1995), and Blue Mars (1997)—and the New York Times bestseller 2312 (2012). Robinson has won numerous awards including the Hugo Award for Best Novel, the Nebula Award for Best Novel, and the World Fantasy Award.

Please visit our website http://Surveilled.US for more information about our previous events.

All best,


Uyen P. Le
Mellon Sawyer Postdoctoral Fellow, Surveillance Democracies

Senior Research Fellow, California International Law Center

University of California, Davis School of Law


Scholarship on SSRN