NSA Bulk Metadata Collection: Evaluating Privacy Through the Lens of Contextual Integrity

Date & Time: 11/04/2016 12:00 pm - 11/04/2016 3:30 pm

In May 2013, Edward Snowden, a former contract employee with the National Security Agency (NSA), provided journalists with unauthorized access to extensive details of NSA warrantless domestic surveillance programs that started during the George W. Bush Administration. One previously secret program, started in 2006, involved the bulk collection of telephone metadata. Such information included the numbers at which phone calls originated and terminated, the identity of the communications devices involved, the telephone lines used, and the time and duration of each call. The NSA defended its practice, in part, on the ground that, because the agency was not intercepting the actual contents of each phone call, the gathering of metadata allegedly posed no threat to privacy.

NSA Bulk Metadata Collection: Evaluating Privacy Through the Lens of Contextual Integrity is a mini-conference designed to evaluate the NSA’s argument. The centerpiece will be the presentation of a forthcoming paper by Paula H. Kift, a doctoral candidate in New York University’s (NYU) Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, and Professor Helen F. Nissenbaum, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication and Computer Science and director of NYU’s Information Law Institute. They use the theory of “contextual integrity” to argue that the bulk collection of telephone metadata does violate reasonable expectations of privacy and to offer a legal framework for assessing such initiatives. Following a lunch hour presentation by Kift and Nissenbaum, two panels will comment on the implications of their analysis for privacy policy, national security, and the First Amendment.

Noon-1:10 p.m.   Metadata in Context – An Ontological and Normative Analysis of the NSA’s Bulk Telephony Metadata Collection Program

  • Paula Kift, PhD Candidate, Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University
  • Helen F. Nissenbaum, Director, Information Law Institute and Professor, Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University, Cornell Tech

1:20-2:20 p.m.    Commentary:  Implications for Privacy Theory

  • Patrick Gage Kelley, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, University of New Mexico
  • Omer Tene, Vice President of Research and Education, International Association of Privacy Professionals

2:30-3:30 p.m.    Commentary:  Implications for National Security and Civil Liberties

  • Kiel Brennan-Marquez, Visiting fellow, Information Society Project, Yale Law School
  • Margaret Hu, Assistant Professor of Law, Washington and Lee University School of Law

The program is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided to advance registrants.

Co-sponsored by I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society and the Moritz College of Law Program on Data and Governance, with support from the Center for Law and Interdisciplinary Studies.


Registration deadline has passed.