July 19, 2018 - Privacy Center Hosts Third Annual "Color of Surveillance" Conference

On Thursday, Georgetown's Center on Privacy & Technology hosted its third annual conference, The Color of Surveillance -- this year, focusing on government surveillance of American religious minorities.

The conference featured over 30 speakers from academia, advocacy groups and religious organizations to discuss the history and current use of government surveillance to monitor religious groups. Historical presentations highlighted surveillance of Pilgrims in the 16th and 17th centuries, the targeting of Mormons in the 19th century, and surveillance of American Jews and Black clergy in the 20th century.  

The afternoon's presentations focused on surveillance in modern times, from post 9/11 watchlists to President Trump's "extreme vetting" plan to use an automated system that would analyze a vast web of online information, which critics blasted as a "digital" Muslim ban. Farhaj Hassan of Muslims United for Justice and Asad Dandia of NYU presented on the Raza and Hassan cases in which they were lead plaintiffs challenging the NYPD's surveillance of New York Muslims.

Final sessions talked about the role of community action in challenging surveillance, including the coalition that helped pass legislation in Oakland that is arguably the strongest surveillance oversight law in the country.

This post barely does justice to the rich line-up of speakers, poets and artists who spoke at the event. For more, read the Privacy Center's great Twitter feed from the conference at https://twitter.com/hashtag/colorofsurveillance or visit the conference website at www.colorofsurveillance.org.