Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Privacy Rights and Wrongs:
Balancing Moral Priorities for the 21st Century

An Interdisciplinary Conference
April 21, 2009
8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
McNally Amphitheatre, Lincoln Center Campus
140 W. 62nd Street, New York City
Sponsored by The Center for Ethics Education and
The Center on Law & Information Policy

With presentations from well-known academics and experts, this multidisciplinary conference explored a number of issues related to the topic of privacy and privacy rights, especially in light of recent technological developments and current concerns about terrorism. In addition, this conference addressed the problem of defining and defending "privacy rights" within the context of varying legal, moral, and political discourses, as well as the importance of understanding the value of privacy against the backdrop of other values and concerns, such as the doing of justice, the preserving of the common good, and the maintenance and fostering of personal accountability.

8:30 a.m.
Registration and Breakfast
9:00 a.m.
Welcome Address

Joseph M. McShane, S.J.
Fordham University

9:15 a.m.
Session I:  What Is Privacy in the 21st Century?
Moderator: Jessi Tamayo, Assistant Director, Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics, 
Fordham University

A Fair Balance: The Right to Privacy, the Common Good, and Catholic Social Thought
Barbara Hilkert Andolsen
James and Nancy Buckman Chair in Applied Christian Ethics
Professor, Theology Department
Fordham University

In the second half of the twentieth century, Catholic social thought began to support human rights—including the right to privacy—as key safeguards for the fundamental dignity of the human person. Ever mindful of the social nature of the person, Catholic social thinkers emphasize as a primary duty of governments the protection and promotion of the common good. The challenge before societies in the twenty-first century is to establish a fair balance between the privacy rights of individuals and the "common weal."


Understanding Privacy
Daniel Solove
Professor of Law
The George Washington University Law School

Privacy, as many have lamented, is currently a concept in disarray. Professor Daniel Solove proposes a new theory for understanding privacy that draws from a broad array of interdisciplinary sources and provides clear practical guidance for engaging with privacy issues.


No Place to Hide: How 9/11 (and Google) Wrecked Privacy
Noah Shachtman
Contributing Editor
Wired Magazine

The government and businesses used to have to work hard, to find out your secrets. Not any more. The growth in digital networks made it elementary to track every e-mail, phone call, Web search, and purchase you make. The post-9/11 security scare gave the government the license to do so. A new generation of Internet youth have embraced this death of privacy, and are now living radically open lives, online.

10:40 a.m.
Session II:  Privacy in the Age of Terrorism:  
Wiretapping and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)

Moderator: Damian Lyons, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Computer & Information Science, Fordham University
The Philosophy of Surveillance: A Contractarian Reading
Anita L. Allen
Henry R. Silverman Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy
University of Pennsylvania

Spying, monitoring and other forms of surveillance are not only ethically permissible, they can be ethically mandatory. Yet, respect for privacy is a serious ethical constraint on government surveillance. What restrictions on government surveillance are required to comply with respect for privacy? How well do existing surveillance practices conform to ethical ideals of privacy?x


A Brief Moral History of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
Jennifer Stisa Granick
Civil Liberties Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation

I discussed the evolution of the laws regulating government surveillance of foreign enemies, identifying tools the law has historically imposed to accommodate national security and privacy concerns, and ways in which modern technology, the Bush Administration interpretation of the law and modern security threats have upended traditional safeguards. I then discussed proposed solutions that could strike balance anew.


Democracy ver. 2.1: How Canadian Judges Talk About Privacy, Citizenship and Democracy in the Context of Anti-Terrorism Legislation
Valerie Steeves
Assistant Professor, Department of Criminology
University of Ottawa

This talk examined judicial decisions dealing with anti-terrorism legislation in Canada, and analyzed the ways in which judges talk about and construct the meaning of citizenship, privacy and democracy in a post 9/11 context.

1:00 p.m.
Keynote Address: The Key to Limiting Privacy is Oversight

Amitai Etzioni
University Professor of International Affairs and Director, Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies
The George Washington University

Asking whether or not the public interest and the moral order justify trumping privacy in several major areas is only half the issue. The other half concerns whether these legitimate intrusions are effectively supervised, and that those who do them are subject to proper oversight.

Introduction by Stephen Freedman
Senior Vice President and Chief Academic Officer
Fordham University

2:00 p.m.
Session III:  Privacy, Technology and the Flow of Personal Information
Moderator: Philip Napoli, Associate Professor of Communications and Media Management, and Director, Donald McGannon Communication Research Center, Fordham University
Privacy and the Integrity of Social Life
Helen Nissenbaum

Professor, Media, Culture & Communication
New York University

I spoke about my framework for understanding the nature of privacy, called the framework of "contextual integrity." This is an account of privacy in terms of systems of context-relative informational norms which are social norms that prescribe the flow of information in specific contexts. The framework helps to explain why people object to certain technology based practices that increase the flows of personal information in society (e.g. through monitoring) while they accept and even welcome others. Cynics sometimes conclude that people don't really care about privacy; this framework predicts such variability and offers it as evidence of our finely honed commitment to privacy.


Transparency of Personal Information and the Rule of Law
Joel R. Reidenberg
Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Chief Academic Officer
Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center on Law & Information Policy
Fordham University

This presentation explored the erosion of the boundary between public and private information on the Internet. The thesis is that the transparency of personal information available online erodes the rule of law in two ways. First, the transparency of personal information that is created by private sector activities enables government to collect and use personal information purchased from the private sector in ways that side step political and legal checks and balances. Second, technical self-help in the development of network infrastructure that seeks to assure complete anonymity online may used by individuals and groups to evade legal responsibility and the rule of law. The presentation concluded with a discussion of governance implications and norms.

3:00 p.m.
Concluding Plenary Session: Questions and Answers

Moderator: Celia Fisher, Marie Ward Doty Professor of Psychology and Director, Center for Ethics Education, Fordham University
Interactive discussion including conference participants and all conference speakers.

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