Utah Valley University Holds International Conference on the Loss of Privacy In America

200px-UVU_SealI am in Utah to speak at the Constitution Day celebrations at Utah Valley University and its conference on privacy in America. The conference is the latest national conference organized by the Center for Constitutional Studies. The speakers at the event include Governor Thomas Ridge, former Homeland Security Secretary, who gave a surprising speech that questioned the growth of the department and the raised concerns over the threat to privacy poised by recent disclosures of warrantless surveillance. Ridge repeatedly returned to expressing his trepidation over the sweeping assault on privacy as well as the lack of safeguards under the FISA court and existing laws.

Also speaking at the conference are Ambassador Doug Kmiec (Pepperdine), Robert O’Harrow (Washington Post), Marc Rotenberg (Georgetown), Catherine Crump (Stanford), Alessandro Acquisti (Carnegie Melon), and Daniel Hannan (Member of Parliament) as well as other intellectuals. It is an extraordinary array of experts in the fields of national security and privacy.

I was most struck by the remarks of Doug Kmiec who was once a strong defender of national security programs over privacy objections. Kmiec gave a heartfelt account of how he has come to reconsider his position in favor of privacy values. He spoke at length about the threat to privacy facing the country. Like Ridge, his objections to current national security programs surprised many in the audience.

It was also a delight to return to UVU and see the majestic mountains and valleys of this gorgeous area. I have had the pleasure of watch UVU grow rapidly and emerge as an intellectual center under the leadership of President Holland. UVU is now the largest university in the state and the new Center is an extraordinary addition to the academic institutions in the state. The University wisely selected Professor Rick Griffin as the founder and direction of the Center. While a Viking fan, Griffin has shaped this Center into a premier forum for the discussion of issues ranging from privacy to federalism to religious values in government. The Center continues to draw international figures to Utah to address different views on fundamental legal questions like privacy. The Center continues to distinguish both the UVU and its faculty as a catalyst for such discussions.

The focus on the loss of privacy in America revealed a strong alliance between both liberal and conservative scholars and experts in opposing the expansion of surveillance systems and databank systems in the United States. The conference showed that privacy concerns transcend political divisions that are so evidence in other areas. Virtually every participant expressed alarm over the loss of privacy, including Ridge who was the first Secretary of Homeland Security. There is no better way to honor Constitution Day.

28 thoughts on “Utah Valley University Holds International Conference on the Loss of Privacy In America”

  1. raff,

    The proof is always in the eating of the pudding (or the drinking of the Kool-Aid as it were) but it at least looks like a different flavor.

  2. This is by Cusack: “What happens to individuals in the US happens to the first amendment.”

    Dredd, I agree, it is about human rights, very fundamental rights.

  3. Jill,

    “Other countries are protesting, to include the president of Brazil who will not meet with Obama until he apologizes for the NSA rummaging through her e-mail.”

    Very good.

    We are, after all, talking about human rights.

  4. These are several stories that have not made it into American media or have only done so briefly. They are from The Guardian. Without access to actual information and because our press is so beholden to the USG, it is difficult for US citizens to be informed about what is happening. Other countries are protesting, to include the president of Brazil who will not meet with Obama until he apologizes for the NSA rummaging through her e-mail.

    Our raw data is going to Israel. There is massive industrial spying by the NSA. The review panel Obama set up excluded civil libertarian groups and one participant said the corporate people were indistinguishable from the govt. I’m not putting in links because this won’t get through. You will find most of this at the NSA files at the Guardian, some is on the front page right now. This is one of those.

    “Fisa court: no telecoms company has ever challenged phone records orders. Judge says requests for mass customer data have not been challenged ‘despite the mechanism for doing so’

    One link is by Jon Cusak:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/18/eric-holder-guarantee-nsa-reporters-rights

    Thank goodness people are ready to fight back.

  5. When someone makes a PUBLIC change in their thoughts on something important like this I’m inclined to believe them.

    When I drive the highways and less travelled roads of this country I love to visit universities, ballparks, museums, etc. On Monday I went to a game @ PNC park, my first visit. It is so nice to be @ a ballpark in September when the game means something to the home team. This is the first winning season in 20 years for the Pirates. There is an energy that is so positive. That park and those fans have had so much negative energy over those 20 years. But, that has been swept away in the joy of a pennant race. I walked through the campus of Notre Dame yesterday. Last Spring I drove right past UVU, knowing nothing about it. I stopped in Provo and walked the campus of BYU. Next time I’ll visit UVU, having a frame of reference.

  6. I am in Utah to speak at the Constitution Day celebrations at Utah Valley University and its conference on privacy in America.

    Like Ridge, [Ambassador Doug Kmiec’s] objections to current national security programs surprised many in the audience.
    ” -JT

    That there are still people who are surprised to learn of the Orwellian state all around us signals us to keep up the good work.

    There is a lot to be said and a lot to be done.

  7. It seems conservatives get real privacy and constitutional friendly when it is not their leader who is shredding the Constituion but glad to see Ridge has changed his mind. Now if only we could get that young Senator, you know, that’s right, Senator Obama from Illinois to speak with the president……..

  8. I’ll have to say I’m surprised at Ridge too, but I also think there is some real truth to Alistair Cooke’s observation.

    Have a good time in Utah, Prof.

    Beautiful country this time of year.

  9. comment in moderation… fyi RE: H.R.2399…
    … When someone can get to it in the am.

    thanks đŸ™‚

  10. Good luck and enjoy yourself, Mr. Turley.
    I like that people and groups are having these discussions regarding the threats to our, once perceived unalienable, Rights.

    In a related event…
    Ideas at the House: Panel – The War on Whistleblowers and Their Publishers
    Published on Sep 16, 2013
    US Journalist and activist Alexa O’Brien and Australian commentator Robert Manne are joined by video conference with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Guardian Journalist Glenn Greenwald and Chelsea Manning’s Lawyer David Coombs on stage at the Sydney Opera House (moderated by Bernard Keane of Crikey).

  11. I agree I hope this is presented to the public at large as well. Hopefully there will be discussion of the danger of inter-exchange of data between different systems, such as federal meddling into health records, credit card transactions watched by the gov’t and financial records as well as the more discussed ones such as e-Mail, phone metadata, and search engine queries.

    For me I see the next step will be using the data for political purposes and / or collusion between corporate america and gov’t where the gov’t will pay corporate america for the data and vice versa.

  12. raf,

    Re Ridge … “Always trust the Americans’ second thought.” Alistair Cooke – Alistair Cooke’s America

  13. I’m not into the vice of envy but, I’m going to make an exception this once and honestly state that I envy every single person able to attend this event. I’m hoping C-Span covers it.

  14. Have a good conference, but I personally would be wary of any conversion of Ridge to the side of the constitution.

Comments are closed.