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Ferrum Forum Program

Ferrum College Forum on Critical Thinking, Innovation & Leadership will address the topic of Internet security.

Internet Privacy, Civil Liberties, National Security, Law, and Economics: In Search of a Coherent Policy Path Forward

Wednesday, March 19, 2014  |  Registration 8:00am  |  Program 9:00am – 12:00 noon  |  The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center  |  LiveStream


The 2014 Ferrum College Forum on Critical Thinking, Innovation & Leadership will address the topic of Internet security. Between the revelations about NSA ‘meta data’ collections and reports of Google’s use of Gmail content to target advertising, privacy has arrived as an important topic in the our national policy and economic debates. Our challenge is to integrate the abstractions of privacy, liberty, and government restraint with the real world of law, economics, and policy. 

At a high level, privacy issues encompass two broad related, but distinct, categories. First, privacy is a right that should only be limited for significant security benefits. Here, the security arm of the state exercises great powers, with the potential of great harms to individual liberties balanced by the potential security benefits of government action. Second, boundaries of privacy can have important economic implications. Here, more traditional economic issues are at play with policy objectives focused on correcting market failures. Between these two related areas of privacy policy - the governmental realm and the private economic realm - where the privacy boundaries should be drawn are very unclear. 

Both issues will be explored in two panels—one on security/privacy trade-offs and one on economic trade-offs of different levels of privacy protection—followed by speakers who will integrate the discussion and describe the more immediate issues to be ad-dressed by Congress and the executive branch. 

Details will be posted as they become available.