A year and a half after Tom Karako, director of the Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD), began considering “the expectation of privacy” as a potential theme for the center’s fourth biennial conference, tragedy struck a San Bernardino, Calif. social services center. Fourteen people were killed, and 22 injured. The F.B.I. stepped in, demanding Apple Inc. help it break into the iPhone of one of the alleged attackers. The resulting dispute between the bureau and the tech company has given the issues of privacy, encryption and surveillance “a special salience,” Karako said.
The conference will open Wednesday night at 7:30 with an address by F.B.I. Director James Comey, father of Brien Comey ’16, and continue Thursday and Friday with five panels and two standalone lectures featuring academics, journalists and others. Comey will be speaking in Rosse Hall, while all other events are scheduled to take place in the Gund Gallery’s Community Foundation Theater.
A trio of scholars, including Yale Law School’s Reva Siegel, will consider the foundations of a right to privacy in a Thursday-morning panel, the first event of the day.
Returning to Kenyon after delivering the College’s Constitution Day address in 2014, Brookings Institution senior fellow Ben Wittes will speak next, delivering an address titled “Privacy Trends: Is It So Bad?” Wittes is also slated to moderate a Friday-morning panel on security and surveillance featuring, among others, New York Times reporter Charlie Savage and Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Center for Democracy.
Karako described the Center’s 2014 conference topic, the politics of economic inequality, as more “inward-looking,” and its 2012 topic, whether the U.S. should promote democracy abroad, as more “outward-looking.”
“The subject of privacy is a little bit of both,” Karako said.
Kirk Herath, chief privacy officer for Nationwide Insurance, will join other corporate representatives in a business-oriented panel on “big data” Thursday at 1:15 p.m., which will be followed by a panel titled “Technology, Big Data, and You,” featuring such experts as Georgetown Law professor Laura Donohue.
The conference is scheduled to conclude with a Kenyon-specific panel, titled “The Expectation of Privacy on a College Campus,” which will be comprised of several Kenyon administrators and staff members. Of the impetus for this final panel, Karako said, “On one hand we expect to be left alone; on the other hand we expect to be cared for.”
The Collegian will be providing comprehensive coverage of the conference through attendee interviews and live tweeting from @kenyoncollegian. Tweets about the conference will include #KenyonCSAD.